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Chipotle gears up for new “Farmed and Dangerous” campaign February 15, 2014

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Chipotle is notable among fast-food chains for not spending so much on advertising campaigns. But when it does, the ads go viral. Chipotle is experimenting with a new creative format for a campaign called “Farmed and Dangerous.” The campaign is a four-part comedy series that’s going to be available on Hulu. Chipotle’s brand will not be featured much in the spots, focusing instead on the comedy of industrial-scale farming. Actor Ray Wise stars in the 30 minute episodes.

According to Adam Cohen of The New York Times, the Chipotle campaign is interesting because it blends advertising and entertainment in a high-cost production. Moreover, Cohen added, the strategy preaches the gospel of sustainability rather than resorting to traditional ad techniques.

For a preview of the new ad campaign by Chipotle, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What is native advertising? How does “Farmed and Dangerous” qualify, if at all, as this new genre of advertising?

2.  How does the particular strategy used by Chipotle reach new audiences?

3.  Are there ethical concerns about this form of advertising?


Food-sourcing themes in contemporary advertising September 21, 2013

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A new theme is going front and center lately in advertising for food products. Companies are reacting to consumer sensitivity about the origins of their food by highlighting the sources of their ingredients. In this case, “local,” “organic,” and “fair-trade” are all god terms.

While this trend is not necessarily new, Chipotle has proven the approach is valuable by launching two super-produced animated advertisements over the last few years highlighting their responsibly raised beef, pork, and chicken. Both have gone viral, and won praise from critics. Starbucks, too, is releasing a series of ads to highlight the origins of their coffee beans. The new “origins” campaign features documentary-style footage of plantations and local farmers, even following some of the individual workers to put a face on the people behind the legendary coffee. The campaign is similar to one running overseas, and is bound to create rich identification between consumers and the Starbucks brand.

For examples of the “food-sourcing theme” in recent food advertising, see the following videos:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What is cognitive dissonance, and what does it have to do with “food-sourcing”?

2.  How do the ads above attempt to lower cognitive dissonance for consumers?

3.  How are these ads different from other ads that simply highlight the quality of a company’s ingredients? More specifically, how do these ads attempt to address issues of ethics in the food business?

Chipotle and the “adless” brand March 11, 2013

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Big business is almost synonymous with advertising. No so at Chipotle. The company spends just about $6 million per year in national advertising, compared to the $650 spent by McDonald’s and the “meager” $100 spent by Arby’s. According to Jim Edwards from Business Insider, Chipotle has adopted more of a form of “word-of-mouth publicity,” and considers advertising a “risk factor” to its business. In an attempt to avoid ad spending, Chipotle has even managed to do quite well, with sales at $2.3 billion in 2012, a 23 percent increase compared to the year before.

Chipotle hasn’t forgone all advertising, though. The company simply regards traditional marketing irrelevant to its brand. While it purchased time for one ad in 2012, the way the ad came to be shows that Chipotle is a different company. The “Back to the Start” ad began in summer 2011 as a two minute online video featuring a farmer struggling with a corporate farm. To the music of Willie Nelson covering a classic Coldplay song, the farmer changes his ways and reverts his property back to the way he began. The ad was a hit, with millions of views on YouTube. In response to the praise over social media, the company eventually purchased a spot for the ad, its very first on national television.

To see the “Back to the Start” ad yourself, watch the following video:

Discussion Questions:

1.  What is “word of mouth” advertising and how does it work?

2.  Why would executives consider a switch to traditional advertising to be irreversible for Chipotle?

3.  How has Chipotle used social media to make the most of advertising?