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Chipotle Brings Fresh Food And Fresh Ideas

“Mexican” fast food has always gotten a bad rap. Places like Taco Bell have been the butt of many jokes that usually end in the obvious diarrhea reference. But that’s not really their fault – diarrhea, that is. Most Taco Cabana’s are open 24 hours a day, which means they’re really popular with people suffering from late night alcohol poisoning or early morning hangovers – people who were probably going to get diarrhea anyway. That said, over the last few years, Chipotle has emerged as the thinking man’s burrito joint. The stores are classy. The employees seem nice enough. And Chipotle has worked hard to present itself as a company that cares about ethics and farmers and toppings. Last year, the company released a short animation – The Scarecrow – that painted a very bleak picture of how most fast food is produced.

What’s interesting about “The Scarecrow” is how it acts as both a cautionary tale and an advertisement for Chipotle. The company seems to believe that if consumers know how fast food is made they will choose with their brain rather than their stomach. This might sound a bit pretentious, being preached to via covert advertising from a fast food place that makes burritos. And maybe it is. But Chipotle is sticking with the formula. The company is currently releasing a run of episodes on Hulu entitled “Farmed and Dangerous”. The series looks like a legitimate comedy, with production values that would be right at home on prime-time television. However, “Farmed and Dangerous” is definitely slanted towards the Chipotle agenda (aka a commercial).

It used to be that television shows would sneakily place products in their show so they could earn a few extra bucks from advertising. Now it appears that Chipotle is trying to sneak an actual television series into its advertising. Is that progress? If you’re in advertising, yes. Otherwise, I don’t really know. The message is admirable and “Farmed and Dangerous” is more entertaining than most of the commercials on television. However, this is all a lot to digest when I’m just tryin’ to eat some sloppy Tex-Mex.

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