‘Farmed and Dangerous’ is Chipotle’s latest marketing move

Chipotle is no stranger to unconventional marketing techniques. In September, America’s fastest growing restaurant chain painted a grim picture of large-scale agriculture with a computer animated short called The Scarecrow.

Ironically, Chipotle is following its video short with something larger scale — a comedy series.

The restaurant chain’s opposition to large-scale meat production is nothing new, but this time the company is doubling-down on its message. Instead of spending millions of dollars on a Super Bowl ad, Chipotle is premiering a new show on the Internet video service, Hulu.

Farmed and Dangerous

The show, Farmed and Dangerous, is a four-episode series about a fictional industrial agriculture company named Animoil Global. The series takes a satirical approach to Animoil Global’s plan to feed cows a petroleum-based pellet. The pellet saves the company money, but, surprisingly, it also causes cows to explode.

As part of its viral marketing campaign, Chipotle has even designed a website for the fictional company, complete with a description of the Petro Pellet, Animoil’s new flagship product.

It’s ridiculous, but that’s the approach Chipotle is taking.

Chipotle in entertainment?

Chipotle’s jump into the entertainment business is reflective of several trends in media, most notably something called native advertising.

In an interview with the New York Times, Bryan Thoesen, a Hulu executive, said the show, “sits between content for entertainment and content for advertising,” something Hulu is calling ‘brand-authored content.’

Daily Finance, a finance blog, called Chipotle’s move “brilliant advertising” and added, “If executed well, Chipotle’s bold bet on a Hulu-based show could pay handsomely for shareholders — and change the world of advertising in the process.”

Chipotle isn’t necessarily trying to change advertising; the company is pressuring the agriculture community.

What about agriculture?

The company’s opposition to large-scale farming is important to its growth, according to the New York Times.

What the company is hoping for is a viral marketing gold mine, while using comedy to influence the agriculture industry, with a laugh.

It’s a move that is putting many farmers, and agriculture companies, on the defensive — again.

The show premiers Feb. 17 on Hulu.

About the Author

Will Flannigan is Farm and Dairy's online editor. He grew up in Salem, Ohio, and is new to the agricultural scene. Will enjoys hiking, community theater and learning new things. More Stories by Will Flannigan

14 Comments

  1. Question everything says:

    Someone should truly investigate exactly where all the ingredients for the burritos is actually coming from. Does anyone honestly believe a food chain with more than 1500 locations, net income in 2012 of $278 million and a staff of 37,000 employees gets all of its meat from “sustainable” farming practices and small family farms?….. They are getting rich using the products of the very farmers they are demonizing…..Expose the fraud!

    • mary gibson says:

      If this is true, indeed it needs to be exposed!

    • Kris says:

      I agree. I support niche markets, but Chipotle’s marketing campaign is really getting on my nerves.
      How do they define sustainable? Everyone has a slightly different answer. According to Merriam-Webster it means “involving methods that do not completely use up or destroy natural resources”. If you want to have a farm for more than a few years of course you are doing everything to preserve your natural resources. Everyone I know in ag production is doing this as best we know how. Yes they have been mistakes made in the past, but it is our goal to continue researching better and better ways to produce food. Our business is feeding people. Not only do we pride ourselves in how many people we feed, we are feeding ourselves and our families. Of course we care about how we all care about sustainability.

      As to what Chipotle isn’t telling you. I appreciate this article: http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2013/09/chipotle-commercial-sustainable-food-truth

    • Darren Moore says:

      One thing is for sure this government is for damn sure poisoning us all.if you don’t believe it you’re a damn fool.The garbage they put in our food is not fit for an animal.look at how many people in their 20′s and 30′s are dying of cancer. Time to wake up folks I believe this is called population control.

      • Amli says:

        I don’t know about population control, there are easier ways to do that. But certainly there is a degree of just not giving a flying f*ck about the harmful effects of dubious food products.

  2. ODA Watchdog says:

    According to Chipotle’s website, they serve “food with integrity. It means serving the very best sustainably raised food possible with an eye to great taste, great nutrition and great value. It means that we support and sustain family farmers who respect the land and the animals in their care. It means that whenever possible we use meat from animals raised without the use of antibiotics or added hormones. And it means that we source organic and local produce when practical. And that we use dairy from cows raised without the use of synthetic hormones. Food With Integrity is a journey that started more than a decade ago and one that will never end.

    • Question everything says:

      “Whenever possible”…..”When practical”….bail out terms.
      Let’s get the facts of what % of ‘Whenever possible’ and ‘when practical’ actually occur. Meanwhile they demonize those providing them with products that have quote “great taste, great nutrition and great value”

    • Kris says:

      “It means that we support and sustain family farmers who respect the land and the animals in their care.”

      How do you define ‘family farm’? The common definition is a farm that is owned and operated by one person or group of relatives (siblings, couples, parents and children ect.). I would like to point out that >95% of farms in the US fit this definition. That means less than 5% of farms, the person making the decisions isn’t the one out there on the farm interacting with his animals or land. Let’s think this through. If someone owns something valuable (land, machinery, livestock), spends almost every day with or near that thing, and it is what his or her livelihood, well-being, and future rests in how likely is it that that person wouldn’t respect that very thing. So really Chipotle is claiming to support the vast majority of farms and farmers across the nation. And yet they advertise by bashing their industry and livelihood. Sounds like a double standard to me.

  3. JT says:

    Does anyone know chipotles biggest shareholder HSUS Enough said

  4. ODA Watchdog says:

    According to a recent article in Mother Jones – - “So if you’re headed off to lunch after reading this article, and you want to eat organic, avoid GMOs, and get food that’s locally sourced—your best best is to go to a grocery store, read the labels very carefully, and make a sandwich. But if that’s not an option, you’re far better off going to Chipotle than McDonald’s, where if you order a burger—literally just a bun, meat, and Big Mac sauce—you’re eating more than 60 ingredients. Good luck, America.” I’d much rather eat food that is raised “whenever possible” without antibiotics and growth hormones than factory farm beef, pork and poultry that is ALWAYS raised with them. It’s really not all that confusing to know the difference.

    • Kris says:

      I know it’s a different for chicken, but one thing to note about beef is that there is an waiting period after any cattle is given meds. Chipotle does allow their suppliers to treat ill animals, but they then want that animal sold as conventional. Something I’m totally fine with, by the way. I have also been in a chipotle when they have had signs posted saying they were serving conventional beef at that time. There are more than just ‘conventional farms’ out there, but obviously the other markets are small. There are a lot of reasons for that. Organic farming can be more time consuming and uses more resources, hence the higher price tag. Conventional farms exist b/c their goal is to produce large amounts of food. less than 2% of the population farms, we need people producing large amounts of food. My biggest issue is that Chipotle seems to be trying to paint this saintly image, when the issue isn’t as black and white as they are telling people.

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