another helping please: chipotle’s animated short
→In the “a picture is worth a thousand words” department, Chipotle’s recently released three-minute-plus animated ad and its counterpart parody have gotten a lot of attention this week. The short certainly delivered on attaining audible buzz, and had I not casually mentioned to my sons the other day, that I’d snuck out to our local Chipotle for a carnitas salad bowl and a side of sunshine, I might still be embarrassingly behind in the conversation.
It took me about 25 seconds to fully fall under the film’s spell, right about when the main character, Mr. Scarecrow, steps into the food processing and packaging factory. The eerily beautiful music and transporting animation makes having a visceral reaction nearly impossible, as does the keen portrayal of Mr. Scarecrow’s discouraged state. I’m not sure about anyone else, but I wanted to reach through the computer screen and give Mr. Scarecrow a hug.
The recent parody (also admirably clever) insinuates an underlying evil behind the messaging, but isn’t all advertising manipulative? And, it’s not like offensive marketing (calling out the competition) is a new trend. In my humble opinion, I think Chipotle’s creative team did exactly what content marketers and brand managers have been advising: They found a way to make an emotional connection to consumers. And, they did it in a medium that speaks to a range of age groups. Advertising aside, the creators also deserve acknowledgment for a well-crafted story. I have a similar view of Fast Food Nation, which takes on the fast food industry in a far more hard-edged manner than Chipotle has.
But back to the emotional ploy… We all know that food is a feel-good commodity. It’s not a stretch to play up ingredients that feel good going down, and that are also good for you. (You nutritionists can take this one on; accepted thinking is that organically grown, minimally processed foods are healthier, but I am certainly curious to learn more.) Chipotle is capitalizing on a popular, health-minded sentiment. Add into that, the love-hate reality of a technology-driven universe, and the message resonates even more.
Looking back over the years, the cotton industry’s “Fabric of our Lives,” Coca-Cola’s “I’d Like to Teach the World to Sing,” and “Give. Live. Love.” commercials are among my favorites, as are some of the Apple ads created over the past couple of years. Their allure, in my humble opinion, stemmed from an ability to convey an understanding of core human values, as well as a sense of being essential in consumers’ everyday lives. Even McDonald’s worked this into their advertising campaign a couple of years ago, in a commercial that showed a family gathering around a formal dining room table, coming together for conversation and quality time—with their fast-food plated on pretty dishes.
My grandmother repeatedly advised me that the fastest way to a man’s heart was through his stomach. In Chipotle’s case, it’s aiming at women and men, and at our stomachs—by hitting us in the heart first. Love it or loathe it, I think it’s a damn solid piece of marketing. —@eatDEWwrite