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Chipotle's New Comedy Series Spoofs the Evils of Industrial Ag

Image credit: Chipotle

This week, Chipotle announced the upcoming premiere of “Farmed and Dangerous,” a new original comedy series that satirically explores the world of industrial agriculture in America. Produced by Chipotle and Piro, a New York-based studio known for its unique work in film and television, the initial four-episode season will air Monday nights on Hulu and Hulu Plus beginning Monday, Feb. 17, 2014. The comedy integrates Chipotle’s values and commitment to serving “Food with Integrity” without any explicit Chipotle branding.

“Much of our marketing is aimed at making consumers more curious about where their food comes from and how it is prepared,” said Mark Crumpacker, chief marketing and development officer at Chipotle. “By making complex issues about food production more understandable — even entertaining — we are reaching people who have not typically been tuned into these types of issues.”

“Farmed and Dangerous” satirizes the lengths to which corporate agribusiness and its image-makers go to create a positive image of industrial agriculture. The first season focuses on the introduction of PetroPellet®, a petroleum-based animal feed created by fictional industrial giant Animoil®. PetroPellet promises to reduce industrial agriculture’s dependence on oil by eliminating the need to grow, irrigate, fertilize and transport the vast amount of feed needed to raise livestock on factory farms.

Naturally, the supposed wonder pellet has some unforeseen side effects, and Animoil’s plans go awry when a revealing security video goes viral, sending Animoil and its spin master, Buck Marshall (Ray Wise of “Twin Peaks,” “Mad Men” and “24” fame) of the Industrial Food Image Bureau (IFIB), into damage control mode.

“Farmed and Dangerous” is Chipotle’s third and most elaborate effort to create compelling narratives to engage and educate customers on the issues inherent in industrial ag: The show follows the burrito chain’s two award-winning animated short films — 2013’s “Scarecrow” and 2011’s “Back to the Start” — both of which helped spark conversations about agriculture and industrial food production in entertaining, thought-provoking ways. The initial season consists of four half-hour episodes, but the storyline is designed to be extended to additional seasons. The show stars Wise, Eric Pierpoint (“Parks and Recreation,” “Big Love”), John Sloan (“The Glades,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “How I Met Your Mother”), and Karynn Moore (“Jane by Design,” Water for Elephants).

“Chipotle’s genuine mission to change the world of fast food is a great foundation for storytelling,” said Tim Piper, a partner at Piro and director of “Farmed and Dangerous.” “The characters and plot reflect Chipotle's position on sustainable agriculture and enables Chipotle to communicate with more engagement than traditional advertising.”

Chipotle has a long-standing commitment to finding better, more sustainable sources for all of the ingredients it uses, including Responsibly Raised® meats (from animals that are raised in a humane way and without the use of antibiotics or added hormones), local and organically grown produce, and dairy products from pasture-raised dairy cattle. The company has also taken on the issue of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in food, becoming the first national restaurant company to voluntarily disclose the use of GMOs in its food, and the first to announce plans to eliminate GMOs from the ingredients it uses.

“We think of ‘Farmed and Dangerous’ as a values-integration rather than typical product-integration,” said Crumpacker. “The show addresses issues that we think are important — albeit in a satirical way — without being explicitly about Chipotle. This approach allows us to produce content that communicates our values and entertains people at the same time.“

Piro partner, executive producer and co-creator of the show, Daniel Rosenberg added, “We hope the show inspires other brands to communicate through more strategic and entertaining creative that is really representative of who they are, and what they are doing to make a better world.”

The pilot episode of “Farmed and Dangerous” will be available for free on Hulu.com and via the Hulu Plus subscription service starting Feb. 17, 2014, with new episodes airing on the following three Mondays.

Last week, Whole Foods announced the debut of its new television series, “Dark Rye,” on Pivot, Participant Media’s TV network targeting Millennials. Created as an online magazine by Whole Foods in 2012, the 2013 James Beard award-winning “Dark Rye” explores the realms of food, health, sustainability, design, technology and social enterprise through stories, recipes and creative projects. Whole Foods said the first season of “Dark Rye” will highlight topics ranging from artists seeking social justice to entrepreneurs rebuilding Detroit to culinary masters maintaining sustainable food traditions. The first episode aired January 22.

For more examples of how brands are using #Communications to share their values with consumers, check out our editorial channel.

Jennifer Elks is Managing Editor at Sustainable Brands. She is a writer, editor and foodie who is passionate about improving food systems, closing loops and creating more livable cities. She loves cooking, wine, cooking with wine, correcting spelling errors in… [Read more about Jennifer Elks]


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