Chipotle Mexican Grill has been quiet on the marketing front for the better half of 2016. The company has yet to recover from the rash of E. coli outbreaks that stopped customers from returning to the chain in droves last year. The company did release a short-lived “free burrito” campaign through social-media, but now the company is trying to appeal to your softer side; with animation.
The company released “A Love Story” today, which is an original, animated short film that follows the story of two young entrepreneurs named Ivan and Evie. The story centers on their escalating rivalry, eventually leading them to build competing fast food empires.
“We are changing the way people think about and eat fast food,” said Mark Shambura, director of brand marketing at Chipotle. “That starts with using excellent ingredients, and preparing those ingredients using classic cooking techniques. ‘A Love Story’ illustrates how competition propelled these two once-simple concepts to become something neither of their founders envisioned — reliant on limited time offers, vast menus and heavily processed food.”
“A Love Story” continues Chipotle’s tradition of animated short films and innovative content that illustrates how competition among food businesses can cause them to become something that was not initially intended. The film was made by Chipotle in conjunction with Passion Pictures, a renowned animation production company that has won multiple Academy Awards, BAFTA Awards, Emmy Awards, and advertising awards for its feature films, television programming and commercial content, and CAA Marketing, and was directed by award-winning director, Saschka Unseld. The film is set to a remake of the Backstreet Boys’ 1999 hit song “I Want it That Way” recorded as a duet by GRAMMY Award winner, Alabama Shakes’ lead singer Brittany Howard and GRAMMY Award® nominated My Morning Jacket frontman Jim James, and produced by GRAMMY Award
nominated producer Blake Mills. The song will be available for streaming on Spotify, Pandora, and SoundCloud.
Chipotle’s first original short film, “Back to the Start,” was released in 2011, and followed a farmer’s evolution from small, sustainable farming to large, industrial farming before going “back to the start” and returning to farming the way he did it in the beginning.
The film was set to a Willie Nelson remake of Coldplay’s song “The Scientist.” In 2013, Chipotle released “The Scarecrow,” which highlighted issues associated with heavily processed food. “The Scarecrow” was set to a remake of the song “Pure Imagination” from the 1971 film classic “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory,” performed by GRAMMY Award–winning artist Fiona Apple.
In 2014, Chipotle launched “Farmed and Dangerous,” a four-episode scripted satire series that explored how perceptions are created in the industrial food sector. Collectively, its entertainment oriented content programs have won numerous awards, including the Film Lions Grand Prix and the Branded Content and Entertainment Lion at the Cannes Lions Festival.
“Chipotle is very different than traditional fast food restaurants, and our marketing reflects those differences,” said Shambura. “By telling elements of Chipotle’s story through films that are primarily meant to entertain viewers, we have been able to prompt a number of important conversations about food and issues in food. While we hope consumers find ‘A Love Story’ as entertaining as we do, we also hope it encourages them to think about how food is made.”