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Chipotle’s The Scarecrow: My love-hate Marketing Relationship

20/09/2013
admin@michigancreative

I have really struggled to create this post. One part of me is trying to analyze this video from a marketing standpoint but the other part of me is trying to analyze this video from an agricultural standpoint. Due to the nature of my blog, I will try to keep this as marketing-focused as possible.

I’ll start with why I think this is such an effective marketing campaign:

1. First of all, emotional marketing is effective. It has been proved time and time again that people make purchases based on how they feel. This campaign is effective in that it makes Chipotle look good and makes you feel bad about eating at places that don’t have the same “ethics” as they do. By spending most of the video with a song in a minor key, a dark feel and a sad scarecrow, it convinces the viewer to feel bad about “factory farms” and to feel good about Chipotle.

2. It also touches on content marketing quite a bit. With the over three minute video plus the option to download and play a game with the same title, they are making sure you remember the campaign. They are also planning on releasing four online videos TV-show links next year and this was used as their launch. Plus, you’ll never forget that haunting version of Pure Imagination.

3. It has created buzz. Lots of buzz. Whether it’s good or bad feedback, people are certainly talking about it. It went viral rapidly and has spurred hundreds of blog posts and news articles. I’ve had several friends ask me about it from both a marketing and agricultural standpoint and I’ve had lots of heated discussions.

4. The campaign feeds on human imagination. By placing such vivid images of how the agriculture “works” (according the Chipotle) and combining it with a sad version of Pure Imagination sung by well-known Fiona Apple really gets you thinking. It gets you upset. And it makes you think.

Let’s now move onto why I think this is an overall ineffective marketing campaign.

1. The major issue I have with this campaign is the approach they are taking in regards to branding. In the entire clip, there are just a few spots where branding is involved: Chipotle’s name shows up in a very small print in the beginning, there is one point where they show the pepper, and there is a logo shown at the very end of the video. For people that are familiar with the brand and its stance against big agriculture, this branding point is mute as some consumers are already familiar. However, with how viral it was expected to go (and is going), why would you not want to brand more?

2. The next issue I have is that such a strong emotional marketing campaign has the very real possibility of alienating part of your target market. Due to my background in agriculture and my love of the dairy industry, I could list of hundreds of inaccuracies and thousands of things that make me upset when I watch this video. (I won’t do that though, I promised to stick to marketing!) If you look at the comments on the video and the blog posts and news articles that it has spurred, it is not all positive feedback and frankly is making quite a few people mad. By taking such a strong social stance, they may find that they actually loose customers simply because they will disagree just as strongly from the opposite side.

3. Will it really sell more burritos? The goal of an advertising campaign is to increase sales. When a company spends so little time on marketing their own brand and products, is it really an effective marketing campaign? Sure it creates buzz, but who knows if it is linked to an increase of sales. With no focus on product and little focus on brand, it would honestly be almost impossible to link the two as coordinating factors even if they did see an increase.

4. There is no call to action in this campaign. All the way through to the end of the video, there is not a single call to action. Okay, maybe you could count the plug for you to download the game, but that’s stretching it. Every marketing campaign has to have a point and an end goal. Yes, awareness may be their goal but it does not directly lead to a call to action. There is no campaign to end big farming, no campaign to prevent you from buying their food, no nothing.

So there describes my love-hate relationship with Chipotle and this campaign. It’s one that is creating lots of buzz and attention, but will it really lead to an increase in sales?

Until next time,

Melissa