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Chipotle Gets into Branded Entertainment Game with Animated Short, App

Project that puts a target on processed food follows Chipotle's award-winning "Back to the Start" campaign, developed with CAA Marketing

Chipotle has stepped up its efforts to entertain customers while promoting its mission to serve sustainably raised food.

The Mexican eatery released “The Scarecrow,” on Thursday, as an animated short film and free app-based mobile game for Apple devices that encourages consumers not to eat processed food and follows a scarecrow’s search for healthier options.



Chipotle has long stressed that it supports local family farmers and the use of meat from animals raised without antibiotics or injected with hormones.

What’s unique about “The Scarecrow,” however, is that the animated short is not heavily branded by Chipotle.

The brand’s logo is only briefly mentioned at the end of the short and at the start of the game.

But that’s not to say Chipotle is shying away from taking credit for producing the short — it’s the first thing you see when visiting the company’s website, for example.

The effectively alternative approach to branded entertainment was produced by Moonbot Studios, behind the Oscar-winning “The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore,” in 2011 (see the short below).

“The Scarecrow” is only the first of new pieces of entertainment that Chipotle will roll out next year further attacking Big Food.

While Chipotle developed and produced “The Scarecrow” with CAA Marketing, it plans to produce “Farmed and Dangerous” on its own as four dark comedies that it will release on online platforms that promote better eating, especially among younger Millennials.

“We’re trying to educate people about where their food comes from,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing officer at Chipotle.

And going after younger consumers is why the content isn’t as branded as one might expect.

Millennials tend to steer away from brands that promote themselves too heavily, marketers have found. But they’ve also learned that Millennials are attracted to those brands with a specific voice. In Chipotle’s case, it’s a campaign against the evils of Big Food.

And that’s helped “The Scarecrow” certainly stand out from the crowd.

The animated short is a dark and haunting three-minute piece that Tim Burton would certainly appreciate, that features chickens being injected, sad cows stuck in crates, and evil red-eyed robotic crows running an industrial food factory known as Crow Foods that pumps out food labelled as “100% beef-ish.” Fiona Apple’s moody cover of “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory’s” “Pure Imagination” plays over the action.

The song can be purchased on iTunes for 99 cents, with proceeds benefitting the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, a non-profit.

Chipotle’s “Scarecrow” short is a follow up to its 2012 Cannes Grand Prix winner “Back to the Start,” another animated look at the eatery’s approach to locally sourced products that fill its tacos and burritos — that was watched by over 7.5 million people online.

As for the game, which features the crows as villains, Chipotle will give away up to 1 million buy-one-get-one free offers to consumers who play it.

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