The Power of the Pepper

Earlier last week we shared Chipotle’s new ad on our Facebook page. In case you don’t follow our every move (as you should), please devote the next three minutes of your life to the video below.

In the October 2013 edition of Print, Sarah Whitman states the following about storytelling: “A great story is the heart and soul of all outstanding graphic design work. An authentic narrative is what sets a brand apart from its competitors, even making it beloved. No design project should begin without a thorough exploration of a product or company’s back story; the tale you spin will become your client’s legacy—so it better be a true one.”

So what’s the deal with this sad-yet-cute, scrawny, button-eyed scarecrow? Is he living in a world of imagination filled with genetically modified meats and overtaken by omniscient robot crows (that he’s incapable of scaring, mind you) or is his world a reality representing the manipulative hand Big Agriculture has over the fast-food industry? Pretty heavy stuff for a guy filled with straw, if you ask me.

In the days following The Scarecrow’s release, critics both praised and criticized the hauntingly beautiful cartoon short for its simplest interpretation: Chipotle serves food of substance and integrity; the other blokes blast you with genetically modified chickens and cows. Chipotle is certainly making a ginormous statement as a company; a statement, which Sarah Whitman pointed out, must be a legacy spun with truth. And, beyond simply making a statement, to whom is it being made?

The more I watch The Scarecrow (I’m up to a few views per day now—You’re welcome, Chipotle), the more I feel like a secondary target audience. Of course I am the consumer walking into Chipotle and paying the cashier with my hard-earned dollars for a burrito-induced coma. Perhaps above and beyond the Chipotle-obsessed consumer that will eat a burrito regardless of what you put in it, this advertisement serves as a warning to Big Agriculture and its fast-food subsidiaries: “We are watching you. We know what you are doing and how you are feeding America. This one is for all the over-plumped baby chickens and sad-eyed cows and little children jumping for joy with their Happy Meals. Be afraid of our fresh guacamole. Be very afraid.”

Chipotle is telling us a story and positioning itself as a green, health-conscious, sustainable brand. In three short minutes, Chipotle has changed how we feel and what we think about a single red pepper. Will you praise it? Will you criticize it?

“We’ll begin with a spin, traveling in the world of my creation. What we’ll see will defy explanation.”

Source: Chipotle, Print Magazine

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