Chipotle Mexican Grill has launched "The Scarecrow," a game for the iPhone, iPad and iPod touch and an animated short film on You Tube.
The organically-farmed meat fast-food restaurant claims the thought-provoking advertisement takes a stand against factory farming and promotes the company’s stance to “Cultivate A Better World.”
But according to Dr Douglas Powell, publisher of Barfblog, the company has missed the microbiological mark.
'Misses the mark'
“Once again, Chipotle misses the mark. A firm doing $800m a year in revenues with 1,500 storefronts is a Big Ag. Embrace it, instead of pretending to be all ‘hipster’. And tell the world about your food safety programs, because most parents care about whether food will make their kids sick," he said.
“They (Chipotle) collaborate with talented people and produce compelling videos, but in the end, go with the evidence or go home.”
Wyatt Bechtel of The Pork Network said Chipotle’s You Tube video is a slap in the face to farmers and ranchers.
“Fear and misinformation. That is the easiest way to describe the advertising tactics of the popular restaurant chains Chipotle and Panera Bread,” said Bechtel.
Altering consumer perceptions
“This scarecrow is likely dumbfounded by the video he was in. Both chains have been actively pushing non-hormone, antibiotic free, ethically raised meat and poultry products. They’ve both promoted their preferred types of animal protein through artistic, animated videos meant to alter consumer perceptions of conventional agriculture products.”
The game and film tells the story of a scarecrow's journey to bring wholesome food back to people by providing an alternative to processed food that dominates the world and was created in partnership with Moonbot Studios and CAA Marketing, a division of Creative Artists Agency.
“The more people learn about where their food comes from and how it is prepared, the more likely they are to seek out high-quality, classically prepared food like we serve in our restaurants,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing officer, Chipotle.
Processed food & the real thing
“We created 'The Scarecrow' game and film as an entertaining and engaging way to help people better understand the difference between processed food and the real thing.”
Thanks to the publicity generated by the film, McDonald’s has waded into the processed foods debate claiming it too uses real ingredients, with a focus on responsible sourcing.
“Our supply chain includes suppliers of all sizes including family-owned farms and ranches in the US,” a spokesman told FoodProductionDaily.
“Our burgers are made using 100% USDA inspected beef – no fillers and no additives. The only thing we add is a bit of salt and pepper on the grill.
Limited use of antibiotics
“Our chicken and pork, like all chicken and pork sold in the US, does not contain artificial hormones. We limit the use of antibiotics in our chicken supply to instances when it is medically necessary for the welfare of the animal.”
Justifying the impact the fast-food chain has on society the spokesman said the company is working with its pork suppliers to phase out the use of gestation stalls in our US pork supply by 2022 and it is a founding member of the Coalition for Sustainable Egg Supply.
“We are committed to helping our customers make informed choices about the food they eat. We include calorie information on all of our menu boards and detailed nutrition information is easily accessible via our web site or our mobile app,” he added.
Crumpacker added: "In many ways, 'The Scarecrow,' represents what we aspire to accomplish through our vision of Food With Integrity.
"In a system that is so heavily dominated by industrial agriculture and factory farms, we are committed to finding better, more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients we use and to helping build a better food system, much the same as the character in 'The Scarecrow' is taking important steps to fix what he perceives as being broken in his world."
Taking advantage to make money
However, a statement released by The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF) said “There’s a larger agriculture narrative developed by city-dwellers over the years who have ideological problems with modern food technology and production.
“Chipotle is taking advantage of it as much as possible to make money. It’s important to remember that, as one in the ag community puts it, marketing is not reality. There are plenty of videos—not cartoons—that show modern farms in a straightforward manner (that is, without the horror-movie soundtrack and editing of an animal-rights video).”
The company has also seen a number of comments posted on its Facebook page;
“Shame on Chipotle! Learn what real agriculture is about. Your images are full of lies and misconception. What a shameful way to exploit others to magnify your profits.
“You're simply propagating GMO hysteria,” said another. “Farmers are losing money because of people who believe these silly commercials as truth. This commercial doesn't represent where food comes from any more than a shoe box represents where shoes are made. I suggest re-thinking your ad strategy.”
Click here to see the Chipotle video ‘The Scarecrow’.