Chipotle's New "Scarecrow" Video and App: An Emotionally Powerful Marketing Tool (INTERVIEW)

Twenty years after Chipotle slung its first burrito from a pint-size shop in Denver, Colorado, it has become an international tour de force: An undisputed leader in the conversation about sustainably raised food (particularly when it comes to bringing the message to the masses), the company has an uncanny ability to release powerful marketing bits that go viral--a testament to the emotional and provocative connection the pieces make with their audiences.

This week's entry: The Scarecrow, a Moonbot Studios-produced video and iOS game that takes a direct shot at the processed-food industry while tying sustainably raised food back to Chipotle (video after the jump). And this time, Chipotle's chief marketing officer Mark Crumpacker isn't shy about its intent--he says it has very specific goals, some of which are fairly ambitious.

"What we hope to accomplish is to have people care ultimately a little bit more about where their food comes from and how it's prepared," Crumpacker says. "And we're doing that by piquing curiosity." The approach, he explains, comes out of years of trying to get people to think about a complex and unpleasant problem, making the connection between the dollar menu and cheap--but ultimately harmful--production processes. The burrito monger settled on entertainment-based education, crafting videos like this one and creating Cultivate, a food and music festival that brings together farmers, chefs, eaters, and thought-leaders for a sensory experience that imparts lessons about eating.

While Chipotle has long relied on this type of marketing to promote its goods, the most powerful example emerged two years ago when the company released Back to the Start, which took on industrial pork production via an animation set to a cover of Coldplay's "The Scientist" performed by Willie Nelson. That video has racked up 7.5 million views to date, a feat Crumpacker says was something the company "kind of stumbled into. It was meant to be an intro to our loyalty program, and it became a viral hit."

The first goal of The Scarecrow, Crumpacker says, is to open people's eyes to the reality of the processed food world, which is inherently out of whack. "We find that when you ask people what processed food is, they don't really know," he tells Fork in the Road. "We've been working on trying to help people understand that."

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