You’ve probably seen advertisements plastered all over websites and Chipotle cups promoting a new Internet series, “Farmed and Dangerous,” which explores the dangers of factory farming with witty humor. This new series, sponsored by Chipotle, has drawn in major accolades and harsh criticism, as one of the newest moves in values branding.
Values branding is the act of attaching certain moral or ethical values to a brand. This type of marketing is usually intended to make the consumer feel like they are supporting a good cause or initiative by eating at the restaurant, in this case Chipotle and eating locally raised meats and produce.
The series “Farmed and Dangerous” is centered around Buck Marshall, the owner of a public relations and advertising firm, that works exclusively with Animoil, the big bad factory farm. Animoil just created a special petroleum based pellet to feed cows in factory farms in order to produce more meat per year, and “reduce” the meat industry’s reliance on oil.
But Animoil has a problem; the cows that have eaten the pellets keep exploding, and a video of one of the explosions has been released to the public. Through his daughter Sophia Marshall, Buck gets in contact with Chip, the farm owner that leaked the video. Sophia and Chip start seeing each other, and through their building relationship, Sophia sees the moral issues in factory farming and looks to change it.
Critiques from all facets of media poured in stating the show was misleading, too persuasive, or too liberal; however it brings an old question to a new light–do consumers care where their food comes from? Regardless of the facts presented, the series forces reflection on personal responsibility in our economy. It asks if we care about the quality of life the animal that provides our meat before it is in front of us.
Chipotle argues we should, and presents all sorts of facts about antibiotics and antibiotic resistant horror stories. The most persuasive part of the argument, however, is the ecofriendly aspect, the “happy cows happy meat” argument.
The benefits of small farms heavily outweigh the benefits of factory farming, and Chipotle is not the first to say so. Chipotle followed the green movement and believes that as a company they have a responsibility to provide the least processed product they can. This comes down to their meat sources and vegetable sources, which Chipotle tries to buy completely organic when possible.
Whether or not the consumer agrees with it, Chipotle is one of the first modern brands to successfully build their company on a moral organic foundation, and “Farmed and Dangerous” is the next step in their climb.