Chipotle has mixed natural ingredients and sustainable practices into a recipe for success, yet now the fast-casual chain is taking this fresh message from the table to the screen in a new online comedy series called “Farmed and Dangerous.” The series will feature four 30-minute episodes that serve up a deeper look into the food industry and industrial agriculture, while subtly promoting the brand’s commitment to sustainability and responsibility that has given the chain its competitive advantage. Scheduled to start airing on Hulu on February 17, MediaPost.com dished out details on the series and Huffingtonpost.com fed us a sneak peak.
Other than a Hulu pop-up that points out that the series was produced by Chipotle, the company makes little direct reference to the brand or its logo other than playful puns and pokes at the industry itself. In fact, Chipotle is mentioned only once in four weeks. This shows that Chipotle is putting the message before its marketing, which ultimately and fittingly markets the chain in a more natural and organic way. And the message is not about making Mexican food, but rather making people wary of the ways that industrial agriculture and large food conglomerates play with our food in questionable ways.
The story of the series revolves around a company called Animoil that has developed a petroleum-based animal feed for livestock. Yet a problem with the product is that it endangers animals, along with the company’s image. This demands damage control by a slick CEO from the Industrial Food Image Bureau, with the appropriate acronym IFIB. The result is a sharp-witted series that uses entertainment to enlighten us about urgent issues facing the food industry, from the use of antibiotics on animals to our dangerous dependence on fossil fuels.
Chipotle is promoting the series through the use of wittily worded commercials on YouTube that play on the IFIB acronym and only refer to Chipotle once by intentionally mispronouncing it as Chipodel.
In addition, the company placed a full-page ad in The New York Times on behalf of IFIB titled, “An Open Letter to Everyone with Mouths,” where the fictional agency defends Animoil as an example of innovative industrial agribusinesses. It then seriously, yet satirically, questions the value of sustainable agriculture by pointing out that family farms are disappearing at a rapid rate. And the ad makes no mention of Chipotle.
“It’s first and foremost, entertainment,” said Chris Arnold, communications director for Chipotle. “The purpose of it is to spark conversation to make more people curious about where food comes from. But when you are looking at doing something like this, entertainment has to trump brand or you end up with mediocre content.”
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Written by Michael Del Gigante