Chipotle + Willy Wonka + Fiona Apple: Whimsy and a Better Food World

source: snipped from a Chipotle Mexican Grill ad campaign

For the second time, the marketing crews at Chipotle have produced an ad that combines off-beat animation, an alternative-ish singer, and aspirations for a better food system into an educational, emotional message piece (which, to be fair, also sells burritos).

The short film (at 3:23, it’s too long to be called an ad) was released Thursday afternoon. Unlike Chipotle’s first foray into animation two years ago — which featured Coldplay, the voice of Willie Nelson, and a small farmer who sells out to agribusiness but then buys his farm back and starts again — this little story is less whimsical and much more grim. To the accompaniment of “Pure Imagination” — a song from the movie “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” sung this time by Fiona Apple — a scarecrow who no longer has fields to guard goes to work in a factory painted with a dusty, neglected image of what a family farm used to look like. As he labors to prop up the crumbling factory (“Crow Foods: Feeding the World!”), he peers through cracks and spies frantic chickens given injections that swell them to three times their size, and sad-eyed cows confined in tiny boxes. Ground down and sad, he slouches home at the end of a work day and finds — well, take a look:


We’re left at the end with the hope of change, but it’s a darker, less certain conclusion than the 2011 version, dubbed “Back to the Start”:


“The Scarecrow” was released with a web-based education campaign and a mobile game in which the Scarecrow helps farm animals escape their fate. See what you think.


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