Reactions to Chipotle’s ‘Scarecrow’ ad

October 9, 2013 at 2:39 pm 6 comments

The recent ‘scarecrow’ ad by Chipotle Mexican Grill has such a superb music score that anyone who catches even a bit of it notices it and wants more. The entire ad, in fact, stands out as a really well-made short film. It even has – ooops, seems to have – a clear message. But whether that is the right message or the one that the firm wanted to convey is debatable.

[Before I go any further, let me give a bit of background about Chipotle.

Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc. and its subsidiaries (Chipotle) operate restaurants throughout the United States, as well as two restaurants in Toronto, Canada and two in London, England. As of December 2011, Chipotle operated 1,230 restaurants. The Company’s restaurants serve a menu of burritos, tacos, burrito bowls (a burrito without the tortilla) and salads.

Chipotle encourages sustainable farming methods (turning animals out to pasture) over battery farming.  A major selling point for the fast-food chain has been the fresh and sustainably grown ingredients, including pork and beef, in its burritos and tacos. To an extent, Chipotle’s commercials mirror Chipotle’s own story as they began moving away from using factory farm suppliers 10 or so years ago. Chipotle believed it had the right message already in its emphasis on more natural food; the company had shifted to more naturally grown produce and to beef, pork and chicken produced without antibiotics.  ]

The current commercial takes attempts to take swipes at giant companies that treat food like another product to process and contrasts that with food made in sustainable ways that is fresh and wholesome. However, the ad is a bit confusing, misleading even ; while Chipotle intended to send out the message that they don’t use battery-farmed meat, the ad makes it seem like a vegetarian chain almost.

Also, if you don’t already know what Chipotle is, you’re still left wondering at the end of the ad – it doesn’t even mention the name of the chain prominently in any frame. It can be added to the list of ads that could work for a whole bunch of products – from organics to farming to vegetarianism or to a combination of these ; maybe a good ad for Wholefoods or Trader Joe’s, not for a Mexican chain.

In terms of atmosphere, this ad also had a slightly haunting quality, unlike the earlier ad which was far more cheerful. Makes one slightly uncomfortable, which is probably not the mood you want to be in when you’re trying to decide on a place to eat.


To sum up : As a short film – beautiful. As an ad – doesn’t quite cut it.


In case you found the post interesting, you can read more about the ads by clicking on the links below :

NYT article about their first ad 

Articles about the recent ‘scarecrow ad’, here, here and here.

  • Escape Velocity team and friends

Entry filed under: Advertisements, Branding, Observations. Tags: .

Desh mera rangrez hai babu Mine Healthier Than Yours

6 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Sonal  |  October 9, 2013 at 3:16 pm

    I haven’t seen the ad yet, but it sounds quite smart. It’s saying Chipotle is great (and better than your regular fast food co.) because it uses fresh, sustainable and wholesome ingredients, but guess what? A standard Chipotle burrito (tortilla, chicken, white rice, black beans, tomato salsa, sour cream, cheese, guac, and lettuce) has about 1165 calories (, whereas your Big Mac has 490. I think I would be fooled into choosing a Chipotle burrito over a Big Mac after seeing that ad…

    London now has 6 Chipotles, not 2 🙂


    • 2. escapevelocityblog  |  October 10, 2013 at 4:45 am

      Hi Sonal,
      Good to be discussing ads with you again.
      Thanks for the correction on the stats, the numbers we got were from 2011, they’ve expanded since then.

      Please see the ad and let us know what you thought of it, looking forward to hearing your opinion.

      Very interesting comparison of calories. Am wondering whether to run that ad on Fb again and then mention the calroie counts and ask people what they’d choose. Would be quite an interesting poll, right ? If I do so, may I mention your name ? Or shall I take all the credit for it ?



      • 3. sonaltarneja  |  October 10, 2013 at 11:27 am

        Yeah, do it! Happy for you to use my name.


  • 4. Rahul J  |  October 16, 2013 at 12:00 pm

    The ad got our attention and got us talking about whether it’s a good ad or not. Do you think that that fact makes it a successful ad – something beautiful with a vague message which leaves the viewer questioning what he/she saw? It is not too different than luxury perfume ads which are beautifully made but have no connection to the product other than that it reflect a sensibility.


  • 5. tick and flea treatment for dogs  |  August 12, 2014 at 12:54 am

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