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A burrito bowl of Scarecrow
September 12, 2013 5:58 PM   Subscribe

Chipotle's new ad for a mobile game is haunting, dark, and beautiful. It strikes a pretty serious chord for a fast food chain trying to launch a game that ends with a free burrito. If you were wondering how in the hell it got made, there's a behind the scenes video with the creators, designers, and animators that came up with it on their website.
posted by mathowie (90 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
It should also be noted that the music during the short is a cover of "Pure Imagination" by Fiona Apple (which is lovely).
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 6:07 PM on September 12, 2013 [10 favorites]


It reminded me a lot of... what was that movie? 9? Yeah. That was the movie.

Anyway, the game is iOS only, I guess, so not available to me, but whatever - I liked that advertisement quite a bit. Haunting, dark, and beautiful just about says it all.

Nice find.
posted by kbanas at 6:08 PM on September 12, 2013


That was seriously good. I had my doubts that they ever truly parted ways with McDonald's ideologically, but this is pretty convincing.
posted by naju at 6:13 PM on September 12, 2013


"Pure Imagination" by Fiona Apple (which is lovely).

You know, I really liked that cover of Pure Imagination! I was wondering who was behind that. Fiona Apple! Thanks!

Also, yeah, um, iOS only. So. Not a mobile game. An iOS game. Small pet peeve of mine when those terms are used interchangeably. But! Excellent post otherwise. Carry on.
posted by kbanas at 6:16 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I had my doubts that they ever truly parted ways with McDonald's ideologically, but this is pretty convincing.

They were bought and then sold by McDonald's within a single year. I don't think they ever had much to do with them ideologically.

(It is my mission in life to clarify this every time it comes up anywhere, because I like Chipotle, dammit.)
posted by restless_nomad at 6:25 PM on September 12, 2013 [22 favorites]


William Joyce! I knew it!
posted by ocherdraco at 6:25 PM on September 12, 2013


I'm a sucker for free games, but McDonald's spin off does not immediately make me think "wholesome natural food" (though I do love me a chicken fajita burrito).

Also, yeah, um, iOS only. So. Not a mobile game.

Yeah, like when a "PC game" means Windows, not just a "personal computer." I weep for you.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:27 PM on September 12, 2013


OMG. Haven't watched the behind the scenes yet. I just LOVE IT. Except, that haunted look in the cow's eyes is going to stay with me. Depressing. But so cool! But depressing. Ugh. Song works beautifully too.

Thank you restless_nomad. I wrongly thought they were still McDonald's. Though. Are we sure they aren't? I could certainly see McDonald's feeling so smugly clever they reeled in a non-McDonald's audience, even if the big shots held their nose while they allowed it.
posted by Glinn at 6:28 PM on September 12, 2013


The Wikipedia page is pretty straightforward. McDonald's was an investor for a couple of years while they expanded, they had an IPO, then McD's divested. That was in '06.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:31 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


Thanks for that, restless_nomad. I guess I should try them now.
posted by Songdog at 6:32 PM on September 12, 2013


They're pretty tasty, although a burrito is definitely two meals' worth of food. I particularly appreciate the green focus - their downtown Austin location won a bunch of awards for sustainable architecture.

Plus they more than adequately feed my sour cream cravings.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:33 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Well, garsh, what appears to be a post about a game I can't run advertising a restaurant I don't have access too.

The video was pretty cool, and I did NOT place the singer.
posted by Samizdata at 6:42 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Chipotle the company is fine. Chipotle the food makes me feel icky inside.
posted by deathpanels at 6:45 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Poor cow, and I love Chipotle barbacoa burritos too.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:47 PM on September 12, 2013


The way it sneers at the image of "Feeding the world" seems really unsettling. It's a well-done short and all, but it seems to bear down pretty hard with the message of "We could feed more people, or we could help middle-class people feel less guilty about their food. Easy pick, right?"

I mean, it's possible to care about animal welfare and not combine it with corporate neo-primitivism, right? Right?
posted by CrystalDave at 6:48 PM on September 12, 2013 [7 favorites]


That was seriously good animation. I'm an expat and missed the whole Chipotle emergence and have only heard of them, never eaten at one. Is it really as "honest" as this animation would have us believe? I have to assume it's better than Taco Bell...
posted by zardoz at 6:50 PM on September 12, 2013


remember to ask for the quesadilla... it's not on the menu, but they'll make it for you. oh, yes they will.
posted by kbanas at 6:54 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I dunno, Crow Foods looks pretty good compared to Rupture Farms.
posted by aubilenon at 6:55 PM on September 12, 2013 [6 favorites]


Well, it is supposed to be locally sourced and organic "where possible". They are all over Manhattan and they are always packed, so I dunno if they can really manage to be locally sourced and organic around here. When I got to Chipotle, I assume I am getting that poor crying box cow.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:56 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


OMG. Haven't watched the behind the scenes yet. I just LOVE IT. Except, that haunted look in the cow's eyes is going to stay with me. Depressing. But so cool! But depressing. Ugh. Song works beautifully too.

I found the sad cow very sad and wondered how the spot would pay that off. With a happy cow that looks forward to being carne asada? Mmmm carne asada. Sorry cows, you're just too delicious.
posted by birdherder at 7:01 PM on September 12, 2013 [4 favorites]


That was seriously good animation. I'm an expat and missed the whole Chipotle emergence and have only heard of them, never eaten at one. Is it really as "honest" as this animation would have us believe? I have to assume it's better than Taco Bell...

Ehhhh, it's ok. It's better than Taco Bell, but it's still fast food.
posted by codacorolla at 7:06 PM on September 12, 2013


Heh. It's been a few years since I've had Chipotle but there's really no shame in enjoying them as much as you want to. At least their vegetarian offerings anyway. Part of the enjoyment of Chipotle is the minimalist ambience and branding, especially when they keep the place hyper-clean.
posted by planetesimal at 7:15 PM on September 12, 2013


I had my doubts that they ever truly parted ways with McDonald's ideologically, but this is pretty convincing.

You're convinced because they paid a marketing firm to create this game and trailer which, as marketing, are specifically and carefully designed to make you feel warm fuzzy things about the company?

I'm not criticizing the game or the trailer, nor saying that Chipotle is (or isn't) better than McDonald's, but I encourage you to be more skeptical of the things that corporate business interests tell you about themselves.
posted by escape from the potato planet at 7:24 PM on September 12, 2013 [12 favorites]


If "better than Taco Bell" means "good" to you, then you'll love Chipotle..
posted by deathpanels at 7:37 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


The only moral fast food is our fast food.
posted by angerbot at 7:42 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I love the video. It's beautiful, and quite well done. I just can't look at it without thinking its an ad for fast food. They're showing how awful the other guy is, how they're so big, it's not farming, not raising, it's manufacturing, and I have no problem with that, it's probably closer to accurate than any Monsanto ad showing a farmer holding any form of farming tool.

But, they're a fast food place, and they deal in significant volume. They're saying look at them, they are awful. Now look at this utterly unrealistic depiction of the hero, and how good their practices are. And think of us.

The thing is, the cow that's killed by the machine and the cow that's "lovingly cultivated" both have the same look of sadness when they're killed.

I don't know if Chipotle's goal was to convince me to become a vegetarian, but that ad is one hell of a good argument for it.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:45 PM on September 12, 2013 [15 favorites]


Aaaand, shit. Not available on iTunes Japan. If you're annoyed by not having an android version, try knowing there's an iOS version that you can't have because stupid.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:48 PM on September 12, 2013


I'm not criticizing the game or the trailer, nor saying that Chipotle is (or isn't) better than McDonald's, but I encourage you to be more skeptical of the things that corporate business interests tell you about themselves.

Cool, if the whole ideological posture of this thing is actually bullshit and they're falsely manipulating people, then please let me know instead of being condescending. Sorry I'm such a sheep to the corporate interests, man!
posted by naju at 7:50 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Timely animation: after the pink slime hullabaloo last year and all but three states dropping it, four states just put lean finely textured ground beef back on the menu for schools.
posted by jason_steakums at 7:53 PM on September 12, 2013


I found the sad cow very sad and wondered how the spot would pay that off. With a happy cow that looks forward to being carne asada?

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy describes the specially bred Ameglian major cow as "an animal that actually wanted to be eaten and was capable of saying so clearly and distinctly."
posted by Doktor Zed at 7:54 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I avidly avoid fast food, but I think I might go try one of their burritos.
posted by cman at 7:55 PM on September 12, 2013


I taste a GREAT deal of difference in Chipolte's fast food compared to all other chain fast food restaurants. But you know, that's just me. Yes, they are a corporation with a vested interest in getting you to buy their food, but at least their ad makes people think for a moment. I don't see any of the other burger joints doing that (although I guarantee they will jump on the band wagon now). Skepticism is good, but so is finding something that truly inspires you to change.
posted by WalkerWestridge at 8:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


A beautiful film. Too bad I don't believe a word of it. Unless someone has some substantive evidence that Chipotle actually practices what they preach?
posted by chrominance at 8:07 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]



I had my doubts that they ever truly parted ways with McDonald's ideologically, but this is pretty convincing.
posted by naju
-----
They were bought and then sold by McDonald's within a single year. I don't think they ever had much to do with them ideologically.

(It is my mission in life to clarify this every time it comes up anywhere, because I like Chipotle, dammit.)
posted by restless_nomad


Thank you. I've been a fanboy since they started. For the story on how Chipotle started, read the bio on Steve Ells posted in Westword (Denver's free alt-weekly) back in 2004, a year after the first Chipotle opened by Denver University (scroll down to the section starting with 1965-1988: The BeginningSteve Ells is the man..."

As I understand it, McDonald's infused Chipotle with a ton of dough so they could expand more quickly, and it was some sort of $100 million dollar tax writeoff for McD's. Micky D's has made more money off of real estate than burgers, ya' know.
posted by Lukenlogs at 8:15 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


if the whole ideological posture of this thing is actually bullshit and they're falsely manipulating people

Assuming that this is the case, or at least a distinct possibility, is generally a safe starting point when dealing with corporate PR. It's kind of the purpose of marketing.

I mean, the coal industry produces ads that talk about how great coal is for the environment, and I'm assuming you don't take that at face value. How is this different?
posted by escape from the potato planet at 8:18 PM on September 12, 2013


Wow, and to think I already thought that song was creepy when Gene Wilder sang it.
posted by ubiquity at 8:34 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


Apparently they practice what they preach enough to be forthcoming with customers when supply problems throw a wrench in the plans. But that could be a response to avoid future lawsuits like this. They also label GMO ingredients - though only on their website, according to the article. But apparently they pushed for Prop 37, which would have mandated labeling. So in conclusion, Chipotle is a land of contrast (and delicious barbacoa).
posted by jason_steakums at 8:36 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm anti-Apple and anti-MacDonalds but I'm pro-Fiona Apple.

Help.
posted by schwa at 8:43 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


As someone who's both pro-chipotle and pro-crow, I'm kinda disappointed they took the lazy approach of making crows the scapegoats for our sins. I mean, hippos have basically no redeeming qualities whatsoever, but are they ever the villains of these things? Noooo.
posted by Pyry at 9:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [5 favorites]


Strange thing to watch after the episode of the farming anime that made me cry. (That anime, Silver Spoon, is pretty dang good, and this episode has been building emotionally for a couple months now, but really, the cows in this video almost set me off again.)
posted by maryr at 9:03 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


noooo

evil hippos

posted by maryr at 9:05 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


*struts into Chiptole*

YO CAN I GET MY BURRITO MADE BY THE BURLAP HOMUNCULUS, IS HE BACK THERE
posted by Greg Nog at 9:20 PM on September 12, 2013 [32 favorites]


That was seriously good. I had my doubts that they ever truly parted ways with McDonald's ideologically, but this is pretty convincing.

Whatever the facts about their business relationship with McDonald's, this is an advertisement. I would hesitate before being convinced by it.
posted by kenko at 9:25 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Also, yeah, um, iOS only. So. Not a mobile game.

ouch, let me put a band-aid, er bandage, on that for you.
posted by readyfreddy at 9:43 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


It's good for fast food, but the best fast food is at the little Mexican food stand in front of the liquor store at the corner of Story and McLaughlin. It's cheaper, and the grandma hand presses the masa for the tacos. Meet me there some time and we'll have some tamales.
posted by happyroach at 9:50 PM on September 12, 2013 [3 favorites]


I'm one of those people who doesn't like cilantro, so boy I sure don't like Chipotle.

Also I live in San Francisco so I am kind of required to pooh-pooh all other burritos.
posted by aubilenon at 10:13 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


I'm kinda disappointed they took the lazy approach of making crows the scapegoats for our sins.

Me too. I like crows and ravens. They are smart, family oriented and playful. They also happen to eat the stuff we grow… so they get a bad rap and get portrayed with glowing demon eyes.
posted by jabo at 10:16 PM on September 12, 2013 [1 favorite]


But these are robot crows - totally different thing, everybody knows robot crows are jerks.
posted by jason_steakums at 10:22 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


I am so sad for the cows I am thinking about going vegan.
posted by amoeba at 10:59 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh you like McDonalds? I didn't realize I was better than you!
posted by Brocktoon at 11:29 PM on September 12, 2013 [2 favorites]


Strange, I started today with Pure Imagination firmly stuck in my head. Sang it in the shower and on my way to and from work. I like the cover in the video, but. . . . nah I need to hear it from Gene.
posted by Taft at 12:42 AM on September 13, 2013


I have to assume it's better than Taco Bell...

In 2011 Consumer Reports surveyed readers, gathering information on 53 chains. Chipotle ranked highest in the Mexican segment with a score of 82 (comparable to the score of Five Guys Burgers) whereas Taco Bell ranked lowest with a score of 72 (comparable to Burger King and McDonald's). That's subscriber content, but you can review their buying guide, where it's noted that it ranked at the "top of its type".

The way it sneers at the image of "Feeding the world" seems really unsettling.

I don't think it's rejecting the idea of feeding the world, but then, we long ago figured out that it isn't about producing enough food -- it's getting it where the hungry people are that's the problem.

And in any case, factory farming techniques are part of the problem, not the solution. The beef produced in places like Brazil for export to supply Western dietary needs takes away from needed grain and vegetable production and is grossly inefficient by any measure on a caloric needs basis. If you support the concept of "feeding the world" you really can't be on board with Mickey D's.

In other words, I think this is a false equivalence.

I would hesitate before being convinced by it.

Well, it pretty much stands to reason that a Chipotle burrito is using a heck of a lot less beef/meat filling than a Big Mac and similarly more real vegetables or at least rice and beans. I don't need a lot of convincing that it's more attractive for a number of reasons. Whether buying Chipotle will achieve the goal of changing the world this video implies might be a taller order.

But from an advertising standpoint it's certainly pointing to the key product differences, though in an oblique way.
posted by dhartung at 1:11 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


I hate that feeling of having all your buttons pressed, while knowing you're being manipulated. That's what watching the video was like for me.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:30 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Chipotle is not the greatest thing ever, but they are certainly an improvement over other fast food restaurants and their business practices. I don't feel completely shitty spending my money there.
posted by orme at 4:26 AM on September 13, 2013


Well, it pretty much stands to reason that a Chipotle burrito is using a heck of a lot less beef/meat filling than a Big Mac

Nope. A Big Mac has 3.2 oz of meat (two "ten-to-one" patties at 1/10lbs each, measured before cooking) and according to this Chipotle calculator their steak burrito has 4 oz of meat.

Not sure if that's before or after cooking, but either way, it's not a heck of a lot less meat, in fact it's more.
posted by scrowdid at 5:10 AM on September 13, 2013


I was bothered by the anti-crow sentiment expressed by this film. Many crows are productive members of the community. Well, if productiveness can be measured by mockery and the occasional ill-omen, which I think we can all agree is an important part of any society.

In the interest of full disclosure I have to admit that I am in the pay of Big Crow, but who isn't?
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:48 AM on September 13, 2013


PS. It's the squirrels who are the real villains, but everyone is all "oh, they a re so fluffy!"

Go, crow!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:49 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Awesome, another Chipotle thread where I can chime in against a bunch of ignoramuses who think that:

a) Chipotle was owned by McDonalds once so it's basically McDonalds
b) Chipotle is like any other fast food chain
c) Chipotle makes them feel sick

I will, as I have before, point them to an awesome metafilter comment from someone who used to work there, the basis being that when it comes to fresh ingredients/responsibility they walk their talk. If every fast-food chain tried to be even half as transparent and responsible as Chipotle, the world would be a better place.

Also, if you don't see a difference between Chipotle and Taco Bell/other fast food, or Chipotle "makes you feel sick" but Family Owned Authentic Hole-In-The-Wall Burrito Place down the street doesn't (and let me assure you, Authentic Hole-In-The-Wall most likely gets it's ingredients from a Sysco truck)? I'm just going to assume you do not have a lot of experience with food or have been eating shitty your entire life to the extent that you aren't able to properly evaluate or critique it. Seriously.

Chipotle the food makes me feel icky inside

If a bowl of organic chicken rice and beans makes you ill maybe you just have a gluten allergy or something.
posted by windbox at 5:50 AM on September 13, 2013 [21 favorites]


If a bowl of organic chicken rice and beans makes you ill maybe you just have a gluten allergy or something.

Well, that bowl is probably pretty gluten-free. I have a friend with some serious dietary issues (including gluten intolerance) who travels a lot for work, and Chipotle is a haven for her on the road, since she can reliably get a vegetable rice bowl and be fairly certain that nothing is going to make her sick. For what it's worth.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:58 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


A Big Mac has 3.2 oz of meat (two "ten-to-one" patties at 1/10lbs each, measured before cooking) and according to this Chipotle calculator their steak burrito has 4 oz of meat.

I don't know if it was intended or not but for many a burrito functions as two Big Macs. As mentioned elsewhere, a burrito is two meals for some. For others (ok, maybe just me) it takes two McDoubles (same meat as a big mac, so 6.4 oz) to get anywhere near full, whereas one burrito does the job just fine.
posted by the christopher hundreds at 6:01 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ill be going to chipolts today for my free Rito if I just beat this goddam 3rd level boss the GingerClown.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:41 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hey yall, BURRITO is an anagram for RUB RIOT

+++teh more u know+++
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:42 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Big fan of Fiona Apple, this song, and this cover, but color me surprised that she lent her talents to anyone dealing with meat in any capacity.
posted by msbrauer at 6:43 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


I just showed the video to Mrs. Ghidorah, and on watching it again, I noticed that our noble protagonist is never shown dealing with any meat when he's making his food to sell. Just vegetables, and then suddenly, there's tacos for sale.

I'm really torn, for a couple of reasons. I love the video. It's incredibly well done, and something that I imagine is going to linger in my mind for a while (ahem, the cow. The inflated chicken). It just seems odd that a company that is very much a meat seller to be releasing a video like this.

I'm all, all for companies trying to be better than what our standards have fallen to. It's good that they're trying to use their weight to make things a bit better. But at the same time, the willingness to slam the industrial meat packing, but then being too afraid to admit to, or even show that the protagonist had to be getting meat somehow, that seems like an opportunity that's been missed.

Obviously, showing the hero butchering an animal isn't going to be acceptable, and that's part of the problem. The fact that people are perfectly okay with their meat coming wrapped and shiny on a styrofoam tray is another part. There's no way, now, that the protagonist could, in that video, kill a chicken or cow. People wouldn't be willing to see any difference between the factory process and the small business 'doing it the right way.'* I guess I'm trying to say that the video is kind of a cop out. A message that strong should either own up to the process of how the meat gets into the burrito, or it should be the beginning of an announcement that the chain is going vegetarian.

*I'm well aware that to many, 'the right way' would be to have no meat at all. I'm jut trying to say, if you're going to serve meat, hiding how you get it behind clever editing isn't enough.
posted by Ghidorah at 7:03 AM on September 13, 2013 [11 favorites]


Achingly beautiful video. But all of their meat is WAY too spicy - not just for my kids, but for me (and I put sriracha on everything).
posted by ericbop at 7:29 AM on September 13, 2013


Achingly beautiful video. But all of their meat is WAY too spicy - not just for my kids, but for me (and I put sriracha on everything) posted by ericbop.

Man, you need a new definition of spicy. Sriracha is nice, but mostly sweet. Go watch some hot pepper gaming reviews or something. Chipotle meat is so mild I'd fall asleep eating it.
posted by lizarrd at 7:33 AM on September 13, 2013 [3 favorites]


No soylent green in our fast food, no sir. All those other evil companies though ...
posted by walrus at 7:34 AM on September 13, 2013


Second commercial which has made me cry during my pregnancy (the first was the Owl City Oreo dad commercial which I can't even google to find you a link, it makes me sob). The worst part is knowing you're being manipulated by the music and the sad cows but crying anyway.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 7:53 AM on September 13, 2013


[...] maybe you just have a gluten allergy or something.
posted by windbox


I'm definitely not too proud to say: teeheehee
posted by jason_steakums at 8:21 AM on September 13, 2013


At the local Chipotles I go to, they actually put up a sign in the restaurant whenever supply chain issues cause them to temporarily stock meat that is not humanely raised / eco-friendly according to their guidelines. The sign says which ingredient it is so that you can avoid it if you feel like it. I think this is pretty decent of them. Though personally I might prefer that they just not serve that ingredient at all for a couple of weeks, it's still far, far better than your average fast food place would do.

Personally, I love Chipotle for its friendliness to people with dietary restrictions and vegetarians. I'm a vegetarian; my son has a severe peanut allergy; my brother-in-law is lactose intolerant, my aunt is on a gluten-free diet, and my husband is just picky. ALL of us managed to eat together happily at Chipotle one day. And there are not many restaurants where that would have been possible.

In fact, there are very few restaurants where my son can eat safely at AT ALL. Chipotle is completely free of peanuts and tree nuts, and they also have an excellent comprehensive and easy-to-read allergen menu available online. I am well aware that Chipotle is not anything resembling authentic Mexican food, and I love the little Mexican restaurants in my town that are so authentic the menu is in Spanish. But considering that one bite of mole sauce could possibly kill my kid in 10 minutes flat, I'm nonetheless quite glad for Chipotle. And anyway personally I think there is something to be said for fusion food as its own interesting and valuable thing. I don't see people complaining nearly as much about Asian fusion as they do about Mexican fusion. (But maybe that's because Asian fusion does not include the horror that is Taco Bell.)
posted by BlueJae at 8:25 AM on September 13, 2013 [5 favorites]


Ha! "Eat Crow."
posted by SmileyChewtrain at 9:00 AM on September 13, 2013


Chipotle is an interesting case study of the dangers of a company that might care about sustainability issues. From the beginning Steve Ells was interested in creating a new kind of fast-casual/fast food. He wanted the sourcing to be as local and humane as possible, and the finished product to be healthy. But he ran into two problems.

1) In order to grow he had to take investments from unsavory companies like McDonalds. Though McDonalds never fully owned the company and later divested its shares, the stigma has never faded. Many people still think Chipotle is a spin-off, if not a subsidiary of McDonalds.

2) And even more interesting, by promising to change the way fast food is made and sold, they are being held to a much higher standard. People who otherwise agree with the Chipotle approach are turned off because of their own well-earned cynicism. How often have we been lied to by our food manufacturers? It some ways all the misinformation has poisoned the well. This video itself details the greenwashing we are all well aware of. Consumers just assume they have few options and deal with it. We try to be organic and natural, but our expectations are set to be really low. When someone claims they are doing things right, we are instantly suspicious. (I know people in food marketing and this isn't entirely an accident.)

The tension is created by being big, in my opinion. Once something is as big as Chipotle, it has to be evil, right? But big doesn't necessarily mean "bad" (even if examples of big and good are few and far in between.)

As an aside, my favorite irony is how friends of mine go to some of the local Mexican restaurants claiming "their tacos are totally authentic." Meanwhile there's an FSA truck parked in the back.... Small isn't a guarantee of "good" either.
posted by elwoodwiles at 9:03 AM on September 13, 2013 [8 favorites]


Assuming that this is the case, or at least a distinct possibility, is generally a safe starting point when dealing with corporate PR. It's kind of the purpose of marketing.

This is also the same company that faked a Twitter hack for publicity a few weeks back. The video is nicely made and I love Fiona Apple, and Chipotle burrito bowls are delicious, but there is a huge disconnect between the little scarecrow guy at the end personally serving the people and what a Chipotle in midtown Manhattan actually looks like during the lunch rush.
posted by wondermouse at 9:03 AM on September 13, 2013


Scarecrow could never afford a home like that on Crow Foods wages!
posted by jnnla at 9:33 AM on September 13, 2013 [2 favorites]


Wha - Chipotle meat is not that spicy. I put hot sauce on my tacos and despite being the kid of Indian immigrants I don't have a huge spicy tolerance. That "too spicy" comment reminds me of how my parents told me they put hot pepper on pizza when they came to America because it was too mild, and my friend told me her parents put sour cream on pizza when they came to America from the Ukraine, because NYC pizza was "too spicy."
posted by sweetkid at 9:54 AM on September 13, 2013 [1 favorite]


Someone upthread linked to my previous comment about Chipotle being legit. As a former employee, I still stand by that. They make all their food from scratch, from ethical and sustainable sources which they make known to their customers. What do you people want! Sheesh! I mean, the guac recipe I use at home now is exactly the same as the Chipotle guac recipe because it's delicious and made from few, simple ingredients.

If you think the meat is spicy, get the pork or the barbacoa. The chicken and the steak are the only meats marinated in adobo (and yes, that's all they're marinated in. No weird stuff. Just delicious, delicious adobo).

Also, if you don't like cilantro, you can always ask for plain white rice instead of the cilantro lime rice.

The McDonald's thing is hard for me to wrap my head around. I mean, if you're misinformed then that's no one's fault but your own.

It's also worth mentioning that Chipotle is for the most part really great to their employees. They even offer pet insurance.

Also that was a really lovely video. My god, I love Fiona Apple so much.
posted by Lutoslawski at 10:04 AM on September 13, 2013 [10 favorites]


This video is an ad for an ad for a fast food restaurant. It sure is beautiful though.

All this talk of decent chain fast food Mexican made me go look up what happened to Macheezmo Mouse, the Portland franchise. Apparently shut down in 2003. Too bad, it was decent. Chipotle was trying to open a location in the middle of residential SF, at Church and Market. That didn't go well. There's at least three local taquerias within two blocks of there.
posted by Nelson at 10:14 AM on September 13, 2013


Huh, I don't even think of Chipotle competing with local taquerias. But then, I live in Austin, and I can get authentic tacos, hipster tacos, interior Mexican, and cheeeeeeeezy Tex-Mex all five minutes from my house. If I want a fast-food burrito, that's a totally different thing. (There's a local competitor for that, too, but I never cared for them.)
posted by restless_nomad at 10:28 AM on September 13, 2013


Free Turds doesn't do it for me either.
posted by planetesimal at 11:50 AM on September 13, 2013


Not sure if that's before or after cooking, but either way, it's not a heck of a lot less meat, in fact it's more.

I stand corrected. I tried to find that information but only found calories/serving.
posted by dhartung at 1:37 PM on September 13, 2013


They're pretty tasty, although a burrito is definitely two meals' worth of food.

Aha. That explains why I've had to buy all new pants.
posted by The Gooch at 4:59 PM on September 13, 2013


I don't know if Chipotle's goal was to convince me to become a vegetarian, but that ad is one hell of a good argument for it.

They're way ahead of you. The Chipotle's in California were really pushing free samples and coupons of their new tofu-based Sofritas filling. And there's always my favorite, the guacamole burrito (bowl).
posted by FJT at 5:40 PM on September 13, 2013


Wow, I hated that video from the first second. I quit halfway through and only finished it to feel honest posting here.

What the hell, "achingly beautiful"??

You are watching a commercial for a fast food franchise corporation.

It is seeking to mobilize customers by tugging at their consumer strings. It has identified your strings.

The idea that Chipotle is less disgusting than McDonalds or Burger King is disgusting. They are all equally "achingly beautiful."

Masochists.
posted by mississippi at 1:06 AM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


Perhaps they are playing the long game, perhaps not, but for what it's worth, I'd say this is a step in the right direction for any food producer. Free-range/organic/local is very expensive, especially meat and dairy - those are work-intensive products, and probably very expensive.

Organic/Local veggies, on the other hand, are less work, and probably cheaper. Maybe their long-game is to get out of the meat business altogether as people realize that factory-farmed meat isn't so great for anyone, consumer, seller and environment.

One can only hope.
posted by Monkey0nCrack at 6:32 AM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


I didn't see it linked anywhere in the thread, but there's a second video, with Willie Nelson covering Coldplay, and it's also pretty awesome.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:57 AM on September 14, 2013


The music is now available on iTunes, 60c of every purchase goes to the Cultivate Foundation.
posted by Lanark at 7:00 AM on September 14, 2013


Organic/Local veggies, on the other hand, are less work, and probably cheaper.

Not where I live. At least not in terms of relative cost increase.
posted by maryr at 8:46 AM on September 14, 2013


Also, if you don't like cilantro, you can always ask for plain white rice instead of the cilantro lime rice.

Man, talk about your ask/guess culture divides. If this is actually an option, would it really kill them to just let people know about it? If you have an aversion to cilantro, ordering off their standard menu is like trying to negotiate a goddamned minefield—I swear they'd blend it into the fountain drinks if they could find a way that didn't clog up the dispensers.
posted by Lazlo Nibble at 12:58 PM on September 14, 2013


I love the animation but also noticed the same thing Ghidora did about the elision of any process by which meat ends up in our "noble protagonist's" product.

That said, I don't know much about Chipotle and have yet to eat at the one that showed up a mile from my apartment a year or three ago, but I'm intrigued to learn about their stance on sourcing their meat (except for some chicken, apparently) from only the more pleasant killing operations. That does make me feel more positively about eating at their restaurants. But I'm surprised no one's mentioned the recent hoofaraw about Chipotle modifying it's "never!" stance on animals treated with antibiotics. It was just a few weeks ago that a spokesperson told Bloomberg the company was thinking of loosening the ban, then told NPR a few hours later that he'd misspoken, while confirming that yes, the company was "considering" allowing sick animals that had been treated with antibiotics to remain in the herds Chipotle would kill and sell as meat.

Why? For the same reason most companies change their early policies: the desire for growth.

While Arnold said the motivation for the potential change wouldn’t be to increase its supply of steak, Chipotle hasn’t been able to get enough naturally raised beef to meet customer demand. This year, about 80 percent to 85 percent of the beef sold at Chipotle’s more than 1,500 stores has been naturally raised, compared with almost 100 percent last year, Arnold said.

“Every year we need 20 to 25 percent more of everything than we did the year before, and the beef supply isn’t keeping up as well,” he said.


That says a lot of things to me, but "sustainable" isn't one of them.

And about the "naturally raised" claim, very few consumers bother to check that kind of thing. I'm reminded of the Cornucopia Institute's Organic Egg Scorecard (which I linked here a few years back); seems many of the companies claiming to offer "free range" and "organic" eggs consistently fail to meaningfully deliver on promises like access to the outdoors for the animals. Just a reminder, I guess, that there's room for skepticism about the local sources Chipotle stores list on their walls and whether they're indeed using conditions equivalent to "naturally raised" (a Chipotle term that has no legal definition).

Anyway, during a previous Chipotle marketing push about its wonderful way of slaughtering large numbers of birds and mammals, Deliciously Organic offered a friendly but skeptical attempt to understand what's actually happening with the meat the company serves. The gist is that Chipotle says it's trying to do better, and that's the best we can hope for.

But yeah, great animation.
posted by mediareport at 8:43 PM on September 14, 2013 [1 favorite]


They're pretty tasty, although a burrito is definitely two meals' worth of food.

Two burritos is definitely a meal's worth of food, I agree with you there.
posted by nevercalm at 5:58 PM on September 17, 2013


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