Following on the backlash of its "Scarecrow" short film, Chipotle Mexican Grill on Monday announced plans to launch "Farmed and Dangerous," a Chipotle short film series that "satirically explores the world of industrial agriculture in America."
The four-episode series will air weekly on Hulu and Hulu Plus beginning Feb. 17. The storyline is designed to be extended to additional seasons.
According to a company statement, the aim of the series is to showcase Chipotle's "values and commitment to serving food made with the highest quality ingredients" without any explicit company branding.
"'Farmed and Dangerous' satirizes the lengths to which corporate agribusiness and its image-makers go to create a positive image of industrial agriculture," the statement said.
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Chipotle says the first season will focus on a fictional animal feed company that is hit with a security video crisis that initiates the company's damage-control mode.
"Much of our marketing is aimed at making consumers more curious about where their food comes from and how it is prepared," said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle. "By making complex issues about food production more understandable — even entertaining — we are reaching people who have not typically been tuned into these types of issues."
Many may recall Chipotle's previous short films, including "Scarecrow" and "Back to the Start," which the company says helped spark conversations about farming.
Some in the ag industry, however, said that the films – especially Scarecrow, launched in the fall of 2013 – should spark a larger conversation about the facts surrounding farm size and farm ownership.
In commentary following the film's release, Missouri Farm Bureau President Blake Hurst drew comparisons between Chipotle's business model and the business model of farms it criticizes:
"Instead of spending millions on ad agencies and marketing campaigns damning conventional farms, Chipotle might better spend that money increasing the prices paid to farmers.
"Only 30 percent of Chipotle revenue goes to buy food that is sold. Increase that percentage and Chipotle would be able to operate with the kind of "integrity" it urges on the rest of the food industry."
Chipotle, however, says the new film – which goes by the tagline "a bumper crop of lies and deceit" is more about "values."
"We think of 'Farmed and Dangerous' as a values-integration rather than typical product-integration," said Crumpacker. "The show addresses issues that we think are important — albeit in a satirical way — without being explicitly about Chipotle. This approach allows us to produce content that communicates our values and entertains people at the same time."