Taking on the Food Machine

Taking on the Food Machine

Our Creative Director, Larry Washington, posted some musings a few weeks ago about the lack of green ads during the Superbowl. Here at Shelton Group, we all hypothesized that we might see more green ads during the Oscars (after all, more women watch the red carpet action than the gridiron scene, and these are women who have money…women who might be green-leaning). I only stayed up for half of the show and didn’t see a single green ad. I was surprised. What I was more surprised by, though, was Chipotle’s move during the Grammys.

If you haven’t seen their short film called, “Back to the Start,” click here or on the image above and view it now. They’re essentially taking on the machine – the mass-producing, hormone-pushing food machine, as they portray it – and making a bold claim that they don’t buy any of that mass produced food-stuff and serve it to you in a burrito.

It’s a gutsy move on a couple of fronts:

1. They ran the spot in its entirety (it’s two minutes long) on the Grammys to an audience who (one might imagine) wasn’t exactly in the mindset of pondering issues as deep as the mass production of food.

2. They put themselves out there in a way many brands simply won’t today, boldly stating their principals and values.

I question the first piece. And I may soon be proven wrong – we’re going to test the ad with mainstream consumers (the same type of consumer watching the Grammys) in April. My hunch is most mainstream consumers have never really thought about where their food comes from, nor what the downsides of mass production might be. So the ad, though groovy and hummable with the Willie Nelson-singing-Coldplay soundtrack, could have been a giant, “Huh?” for many of them.

I love the second piece. In this day and age when so many brands have, in fact, become very conscious of their impact on people, communities and the world at large AND committed themselves to living according to higher principals, I wish more would tell their stories. As our data consistently bears out, consumers want to hear their stories (a corporation’s environmental story is the number three way a consumer decides if a product is green). Yes, it’s a risk – if the brand falters in some way, the bold green claim could become a lightening rod or easy point of attack. But as Karen’s post today points out, consumers know brands aren’t perfect, and they don’t expect them to be. They’re looking to hear the whole story, and more and more consumers are looking to hear something they can believe in from the brands they buy every day.

The question is:  do they want to hear it while keeping track of all of Adele’s gold trophies, and do they even get what Chipotle’s trying to say?  Stay tuned….

About the Author

Suzanne Shelton

Where Suzanne sees opportunity, you can bet results will follow. Drawing on her extensive knowledge of both the advertising world and the energy and environment arena, Suzanne provides unparalleled strategic insights to our clients and to audiences around North America. Suzanne is a guest columnist in multiple publications and websites, such as GreenBiz, and she speaks at around 20 conferences a year, including Sustainable Brands, Fortune Brainstorm E and Green Build.

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