Chipotle Mexican Grill is spending roughly $250,000 to produce each episode of a new comedy series called ‘Farmed and Dangerous’. The show will air on Hulu beginning next month, and will even include breaks for commercials.
‘Farmed and Dangerous’ is considered brand-authored content. It’s being created by Piro in New York, which Chipotle hired to write the scripts and produce the work.
Now you might think that for a food chain to commit to this kind of funding there would be scenes including the restaurant and customers enjoying their meals, right? But you won’t find anything like that here. ‘Farmed and Dangerous’ is intended to satirize the dark side of industrial food production. It’s presented as counterpoint to Chipotle’s ‘Food with Integrity’ positioning. Chipotle says that wherever possible, they use organic produce, dairy products free from synthetic hormones and meat from animals raised humanely and free of antibiotics.
What’s brilliant about this approach is that Chipotle realized there was more power in satirizing industrial farming than there is in telling yet another ‘we’re green and healthy’ story. They want buzz, and more bang for their marketing buck. And one way to get there is with a show about exploding cows and eight-legged chickens.
The production value is very high. They recruited Jeremy Pikser (‘Bulworth’) to work on the scripts. They cast Ray Wise – remember Twin Peaks from David Lynch? – as the villain. In other words, the didn’t scrimp and save. Instead they rolled the dice with a brave idea, and funded it adequately. There’s even a fullpage ad in the New York Times today from the ‘Industrial Food Image Bureau’. You won’t see a Chipotle logo anywhere. It’s more like a tongue-in-cheek Stephen Colbert report.
We’ll all be seeing a lot more original content from brands in the months ahead. But my guess is that very little of it will be as imaginative as this is.