So Chipotle made an ad with Fiona Apple singing Willy Wonka tune “Pure Imagination” while an animated scarecrow gets bummed out about his job at a factory farm. It’s racked up almost 4 million views, so if you haven’t seen it already, there’s a good chance you’re gonna be hearing about it more soon:
It’s a classic setup: making you feel acute pain about a problem you sort of knew you had, then presenting a rosy solution that involves buying shit.
Except instead of shoving its brand in your face (which Chipotle does only briefly and tastefully at the end, because it doesn’t want to scare off brand-averse millennials), the solution is more “grow your own food.” If you can ignore that a Chipotle burrito in a classic red basket is the video’s solution to chickens plumped up like water balloons, it’s kind of an awesome reminder that factory farms are a huge problem. The scarecrow protagonist plucks a juicy red pepper out of his own garden, in stark contrast to the chicken-shaped chicken nuggets unsuspecting schoolkids scarf down outside the factory.
Chipotle WANTS you to like its brand more, to associate it with “slow food” and farmers markets and feel-good difference-making. (The company also maybe wants you to download its free scarecrow game, but that just seems like a tech-savvy way to “boost engagement” and spend its 21st-century ad dollars.)
The good news is, you can let the branding candy coating roll off your back like you’re an oily, ad-savvy duck. Don’t let the takeaway be “Eat more Chipotle” (even though, OK, its burrito bowls are awesome). If for some reason you have three minutes to be depressed, and you watch it, remember that you can try growing your own food (if space allows). You can buy cage-free eggs and pesticide-free peppers from local peeps (if money allows). And no matter what, you can pressure lawmakers to reform our food system. Someday that victory will taste better than a $1.90 side of guacamole ever will.