Chipotle, the fast-food restaurant chain known for its commitment to healthier ingredients, is about to launch a satirical four-episode miniseries on Hulu beginning in February.
Like the chain's commitment to redefining fast-food, their advertising approach is equally unconventional—and not as expensive as you might think, either. Spending approximately $250,000 an episode, the series is destined to reach a large online audience—more so than a pricey television ad or the rarer print ad.
According to Bloomberg Businessweek, "Farmed and Dangerous" will follow Animoil, a fictional company's efforts to sell PetroPellets—petroleum-based animal feed. There's just one problem. The food makes cows explode.
"Animoil’s efforts with its PR agency to manipulate the public into believing PetroPellet is safe are thwarted by an idealistic farmer who decides to launch his own public-relations assault," reports Businessweek.
“'Farmed and Dangerous' is satire,” Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold told Businessweek. “It doesn’t represent any single issue or any entity. The idea is to take a legitimate issue in ag as a starting point, but satirizing it as a way to spark conversation about all of this. We find that bringing people into these discussions using entertainment is a very effective tool. In the end, it’s satire.”
Chipotle launched a video game in 2013 and a similar TV ad in 2011 that took aim at industrial agriculture themes, which the industry didn't find amusing or accurate, reports Businessweek, citing cattleman and blogger Ryan Goodman who said the Chipotle video game ("The Scarecrow") was "not realistic nor does it paint an accurate image of modern agriculture.”
But critics like Goodman are in the minority. Chipotle's sales continue to grow (sales for 2012 were $2.73 billion, up more than 20 percent from 2011), and the company's transparency and commitment to clean, locally sourced ingredients also continue to expand. Recently, Chipotle noted all the ingredients on its menu that are genetically modified, and plans to replace those ingredients as soon as possible.
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