Chipotle, you just might change two worlds at the same time.

Which is harder to change: the food racket, or the media racket?

Chipotle takes both on in this. Watch it and then we’ll chat.

Okay.

First: that song sure stirs a Gen-Xer’s heart to hear covered that way—it’s a creepy-happy song, and it immediately establishes the creepy-happy vibe. Millennials are in charge now, but I suppose they love their parents so much they’ll affectionately appreciate that cover as a nod to their folks.

Now: the expert at the end of this USA Today article thinks that Chipotle needs more branding in that piece. Let’s just dispense with that. Chipotle does not. This, if it does go viral and get passed around, will shine all the light on the brand it needs to—it will come announced. It will be delivered in a post or tweet or mention or hashtag that makes the Chipotle connection completely clear. Since the world is a giant marketing trap, as Millennials see it, they’re all hyper-sensitive to any kind of marketing odor: minimizing the aroma of your capitalistic intentions is the key to any pass-along viral-value this has. (Note: Please attempt to say “viral-value” three times aloud, and remember me if the phrase itself goes viral.)

Next: (sigh) everything has to be a game, an app, a furthering, doesn’t it? I remember a year or so ago, a client of ours was talking about the plans for next year and said, kind of out of the blue, “Make sure there’s an app!” Well, that particular client (a) isn’t really prepared to spring for the cost of an app; and (b) doesn’t necessarily have a plan for an app—they see the app as an end in itself. The medium is the message, once again and for always. Still, I suppose that some young, skinny subway rider will be playing this game soon. Heaven knows it’s impossible to predict the next Angry Bird/Candy Crush. Maybe it’s this?

Finally: Hmmmmm. Is this gonna go viral? We just got a lesson in what goes viral from one of the Jimmies. It was a silly as it could be. This, though, is pretty bleak. Pretty gloomy. Pretty clearly a lecture dressed up as a Pixar short. I’m skeptical how much animal misery the average pass-alonger really has the stomach for. That first ad with the sad Coldplay cover by Willie Nelson is a cheerful bit of a lark compared to this dystopian Scarecrow’s life. He does have a happy ending, yes, but we have to watch some pretty bleak stuff before we get there—and I feel like the point gets made, then made, then made again. I don’t want to be a nattering nabob of negativity, here, but I wonder how much joy this will give people. It’s interesting because it’s a major cause, an apparently heartfelt mission by a company trying to be an agent of good, and it’s got that animated appeal to soften the chicken injections and jiggling sad-eyed cow udder milkers. But I will side with the skeptics, here.

But: Chipotle is definitely slowly, surely following a media-empire rattling recipe: No (or few) Traditional Paid Ads, A Higher Cause, and Quality One-Offs (mostly) That Reflect The Corporate Mission To Appeal To Millenials Who Will (or might) Pass The Piece Along in Social Media. Also, Tasteful Music Selections.

P.S.: Is that a Chili’s logo at 2:20…?

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UPDATE, 9/19/2013

Just saw both Eater and Huffington Post pointing us all to this deadly, dead-on, and justifiably scorching parody video by Funny or Die, which skewers not only this Chipotle ad but all of us so-called ‘content creators’…(also, check out the Salon piece that Greg Perry points us to in the comment section, which calls out the uncomfortable fact that the Scarecrow hasn’t yet explained what he’s going to do when someone orders a burrito with meat of some sort in it):

5 comments

  1. I am a sucker for great animation. I grew up with Wonka. Add it up and this video definitely hit a soft spot with me. While I was semi-depressed 3/4 of the way through (the look in that cow’s eyes has burned a hole in my heart) it did hold my attention. Good for Chipotle for not overbranding the piece and for shining a light on a legitimate issue, even if the goal is to ultimately fatten their bottom line.

    On a side note, thank for giving the world “nattering nabob of negativity.”

    1. Yeah. I’m a fan, definitely, of this (and the other one with the Willie Nelson song) (I sense a Willy/Willie thread, here) for all the reasons you say. I just wonder if there’s a tendency for the internet to mostly either be about goofy stuff or really astounding causes like the Kony Invisible Children thing. I certainly hope this gets a lot of attention.

      As to your side note—I totally can’t claim that marvelously awful phrase. That’s an infamous Spiro Agnew quote:
      http://www.answers.com/topic/nattering-nabobs-of-negativism

    1. Yep. That Salon article makes a point that has been missing: the Scarecrow does not show how he will deal with that sad cow once it’s time to make a beef burrito. That cow is still going to be kinda sad. And the vegans are right to be kinda mad, I guess, that Chipotle is trying to have it both ways. Did you check out the Funny or Die parody, Greg? I’m about to update this entry with it. It’s pretty deadly and dead-on and effectively puts Chipotle in their place (along with all us other ‘content creators’)….

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