If you haven’t seen Chipotle’s new video The Scarecrow yet, go watch it. We’ll wait. For those of you who don’t have time or just want a recap, here’s a brief synopsis:
Our hero, an animated Scarecrow, is exposed to a dark depiction of the industrial farming system. Accompanied by Fiona Apple singing a haunting rendition of “Pure Imagination”, our Scarecrow takes us through a stunning, dystopian world of farming where workers are treated like robots, and animals are mistreated and imprisoned. The corporation behind this factory covers up with glossy, unregulated marketing claims like “Natural” and a billboard that claims they’re “Feeding the world”.
This video has caused a lot of controversy in the press, in large part due to the fact that it’s sponsored by Chipotle. Is Chipotle manipulating viewers into thinking that its restaurants are the solution to these problems?
With some caveats, I believe that this ad is a largely positive contribution to the continually evolving discussion surrounding the origins of food products. Conversations about the unsustainable aspects of industrial farming practices have been happening for a long time; the only difference this time is that it’s being led by a corporation. It reminds me of Patagonia’s “Don’t buy this” campaign, which was another example of a company trying to encourage consumers to consider what they’re consuming prior to making a purchase.
I think the fact is that as society continues to embrace more open communications about product origins and traceability, corporations are going to start communicating with consumers about these types of issues more and more.
And I hope that the message consumers get from this video isn’t just to buy more Chipotle, but rather to take time to consider the origins and impact of the products you support through your purchases.