Values branding builds loyalty, community

02/28/2014 10:26:00 AM
Chuck Robinson

Chuck Robinson, Media WatchChuck Robinson, Media WatchChipotle Mexican Grill started serving up a four-episode dose of satire on Feb. 17 when the first of its “Farmed and Dangerous” programs launched on TV-streaming service Hulu.

We are about to be schooled on values branding, according to the hype and trailer for the series.

Big Ag and industrial farming are made the butt of jokes in the series, which is crafted to promote Chipotle’s concerns about sustainable agriculture and the humane treatment of animals for meat. The storyline involves Big Ag company Animoil using a new product, PetroPellet, which increases production but also sometimes blows up cows. A video goes viral in the program, and hilarity ensues.

Except in the opening frames where it says “Chipotle presents,” nowhere are the company’s name or products mentioned. The message is clear, though, that you should eat at Chipotle because it isn’t part of that scary world.

Chipotle is banging on the cattle industry pretty hard, and I am sorry for our rancher friends, but if everyone eats less beef there has to be more room for a nice salad or some grilled vegetables.

Chipotle, of course, uses a lot of fresh produce. Each restaurant sautes fresh-cut peppers and onions. The chain moves tons of romaine lettuce, avocados, fresh limes and lemons and fresh herbs. Pile it on.

In mid-2013, Chipotle announced plans to serve more than 15 million pounds of locally grown produce in 2013, up from last year’s target of 10 million.

Putting locally grown aside for now, that is a lot of produce going into their burritos and bowls.

In an average day, Chipotle’s website says it uses 97,000 pounds of avocados. Holy guacamole.

At the end of the “Farmed and Dangerous” trailer Animoil’s marketing chief tells us, “Those people died by eating, not starving. That’s progress.”

Chipotle created some buzz in 2013 with the iPhone app and accompanying video titled “The Scarecrow.” In that video, Fiona Apple sings a haunting version of “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”

In 2011, Chipotle was behind “From the Start,” which featured Willie Nelson performing Coldplay’s “The Scientist.”


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