News & Views

Chipotle / The Scarecrow

by Contagious Team

Change-seeking scarecrow stars in mobile game and animated sequel to burrito chain's 2012 Cannes-pleaser

US burrito chain Chipotle has launched a short animated film and iPhone/iPad game that reinforces its commitment to sustainable farming. The film features a scarecrow who lives in a world where the corporation Crow Foods dominates with products described as "100% beef-ish", chickens being injected and melancholy cows being machine-milked. The scarecrow, inspired by seeing a pepper growing on a bush, resolutely decides to collect, cook and serve fresh food. The final shot sees the message 'cultivate a better world' and Chipotle branding. 

Following in the footsteps of Willie Nelson and Karen O, both of whom have contributed cover versions of well-known songs to previous Chipotle campaigns, Fiona Apple provides the soundtrack: a cover of the song Pure Imagination from the 1971 film Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory.

Accompanying the film is a free iOS game called The Scarecrow - a 3D platform jumper featuring the titular hero trying to free confined animals, serve wholesome food and dodge robotic crows in The City of Plenty. Included is a promotion whereby anyone who plays it successfully will qualify for a buy-one-get-one-free offer at the burrito chain. At time of writing (shortly after the game's release), The Scarecrow had notched up an average 4-star rating in the App Store. 

Scarecrow is the sequel to Chipotle's 2012 Cannes Grand Prix winner Back To The Start, also through CAA Marketing in Los Angeles. Moonbot Studios produced the film. 

Chipotle will launch a four-part comedy series Farmed and Dangerous later this year. The show is about a group of people who work to put a positive spin on the negative aspects of industrial farming.

Contagious Insight
Reinforcing their strong ethical stance on sustainable farming, Chipotle and CAA Marketing have again come up with a beautiful and emotionally-resonant campaign. 

The addition of a game this time prolongs the experience beyond the animation, allowing people to engage with the beautifully-realised world of Chipotle's animation while the 2-for-1 deal drives sales and footfall into its restaurants. 

Although early days, the intial response to the game is positive and the game+animation approach has an effective precedent in the form of Metro Trains Melbourne's Dumb Ways To Die. The mobile game extended the reach of the campaign beyond its native city and helped to drum home the train safety message to a global audience. 

Through the film and the game, Chipotle manages to achieve that tricky balance of communicating its Food With Integrity positioning while entertaining and educating people. It's tough to be worthy and worth watching: Chipotle is both. 

It'll also be worth keeping an eye out for any cries of hypocrisy as the somewhat 'holier than thou' tone of The Scarecrow may remind people in the US of the recent news that the restaurant chain has recently lowered its quality benchmark on the standard of meat it will accept following a shortage of naturally-raised beef.


This story originally appeared on Contagious Feed. Contagious Feed is our bespoke trends, inspiration, insight and analysis service, providing daily innovative marketing intelligence across a comprehensive range of sectors to brands and agencies across the world. For more information about Contagious Feed contact