Mexican chain restaurant Chipoltle has been aggressive and bold with their content marketing strategy in the past several years. They have clearly defined a brand strategy focusing on fresh ingredients with particular attention on sustainability and non-factory processing. They began producing videos to express their point, the first being “Back to the Start“, a simple, short 2min music video that told a story of a family farm gradually morphing into a large scale factory and then back again to the simple farm. Cultivate a Better World was the message. Next, they created “The Scarecrow“, a haunting video about a scarecrow who works at a large factory where all food processing is mechanized, chicken is injected with all manner of who knows what and even the birds are mechanical. Eventually, the scarecrow finds a small farm in the country and starts making meals for the city folk from these truly natural and fresh ingredients. Chipoltle upped the ante even more by creating an iOS game that goes along with the video. Both of these videos were exceptionally well produced and created a viral buzz when they were released.
Now, Chipoltle is swinging for the fences and creating a TV series called Farmed and Dangerous. Unlike the previous videos, this is a live action show on par with anything else you might find on traditional TV. It plays as a spoof with a tongue firmly planted in cheek, but they’ve got something to say as well. Farmed and Dangerous currently plays on Hulu, but Chipoltle is looking to take the series to a major network eventually.
This is content marketing taken to the extreme. I have never seen a brand create an entire TV show for itself before. It harkens back to the days when brands created shows expressly as a vehicle to sell their product. They were called Soap Operas as soap companies were the exclusive sponsor. With Farmed and Dangerous, there is no Chipoltle branding in the show at all, so this is a different kind of play. It’s a massive risk, though, as the series may go nowhere and the production quality is high enough that they must have spend a decent amount of money producing it. And remember, this is a Mexican food chain store, although clearly, the point is to make Chipoltle much more than just that.