By some act of alchemy, Chipotle has done it again. In 2011, Back to the Start -- a short film about the immense error of factory farming and the necessity of a sustainable farming system -- established the homegrown Chipotle chain as a model of these beliefs. Last week, Chipotle issued another powerful message with The Scarecrow, a film that acts as a companion piece for Chipotle's new, app-based game of the same name, enabling users to bring real food back and take action -- virtually. "The app and the film have the same objective," explains Mark Crumpacker, Chipotle's chief marketing officer. "It should encourage people to think more about the origins of their food, and encourage curiosity towards this issue."
It might also inspire tears.
In the film, the scarecrow protagonist takes viewers on a tour of a grim, desolate food landscape. In a steely factory city run by "Crow Foods," animals are injected with harmful antibiotics, treated inhumanely and, in the end, processed and consumed by the unknowing masses. With music set to an incarnation of Willy Wonka's "Pure Imagination" and delivered by a melancholy Fiona Apple, you can feel the unease and regret of the scarecrow. When he returns to his farm, the scene brightens: Noticing the potential of his farmland, he decides to change the game, growing food the right way. At the very end, we see him chopping and dicing his harvest, a delicious alternative to Crow Foods, served in a familiar red basket.
But this much more than an ad. The Scarecrow was posted on YouTube, and quickly collected 900,000 viewers in just two days. While the film reflects Chipotle's belief, it never seems to be selling a product -- instead, the scarecrow leads you to an abundance of resources, everything from profiles of inspiring individuals invested in the sustainable movement to organizations with which you can get involved.
You can download the game at the iTunes app store; find out more about sustainable farming at the offical Scarecrow game website.
The bonus? Earn at least three stars on every level and a player can score some free Chipotle.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.