DENVER – Chipotle Mexican Grill has developed a marketing campaign that endeavors to sell values along with a few burritos.
“Farmed and Dangerous” is being billed as “a Chipotle original comedy series” that casts a satirical eye toward what it calls industrial agriculture. Viewers can watch the four-episode series on video streaming service Hulu and Hulu Plus starting Feb. 17. The company says the series “satirizes the lengths to which corporate agribusiness and its image-makers go to create a positive image of industrial agriculture.”
The series introduces viewers to the PetroPellet, a petroleum-based animal feed produced by a fictional company, Animoil. Animoil promises the PetroPellet will reduce the agriculture industry's dependence on oil by eliminating the need to produce the feed used to raise livestock on large-scale operations.
“Before its new feed formula can forever reshape industrial agriculture, Animoil’s plans go awry when a revealing security video goes viral sending Animoil and their spin master, Buck Marshall [Ray Wise – “Twin Peaks,” “Mad Men,” “24”] of the Industrial Food Image Bureau [IFIB], into damage-control mode.”
“Farmed and Dangerous” is in part the work of Tim Piper and Daniel Rosenberg, principles at Piro, a multimedia production company that produces original and branded entertainment. The scripted 30-minute episodes attempt to reach consumers through their hearts and minds.
“Chipotle’s genuine mission to change the world of fast-food is a great foundation for storytelling,” said Piper, a partner at Piro and director of “Farmed and Dangerous.” “The characters and plot reflect Chipotle's position on sustainable agriculture and enables Chipotle to communicate with more engagement than traditional advertising.”
The new series isn't the first time Chipotle has sought to address social issues through entertainment. The chain was behind two award-winning animated short films — 2013’s “Scarecrow” and 2011’s “Back to the Start”. Chipotle has left open the possibility of the show extending to additional seasons. The show stars Wise and Eric Pierpoint (“Parks and Recreation,” “Big Love”).
“Much of our marketing is aimed at making consumers more curious about where their food comes from and how it is prepared,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle. “By making complex issues about food production more understandable — even entertaining — we are reaching people who have not typically been tuned into these types of issues.”
Crumpacker added that “We think of ‘Farmed and Dangerous’ as a values-integration rather than typical product-integration. The show addresses issues that we think are important — albeit in a satirical way — without being explicitly about Chipotle. This approach allows us to produce content that communicates our values and entertains people at the same time.”