“The Scarecrow” Campaign Builds on “Cultivate a Better World” Brand Messaging

Sustainable Farming Chipolte

Chipotle, the quick service eatery with a mission to serve “Food with Integrity,” is no stranger to viral marketing. In the fall of 2011, the company released a haunting short film entitled “Back to the Start”. The video depicts a farmer conflicted by the choice between the new industrial farming and his traditional, seemingly more humane practices.

In the end, the farmer decides on his old ways, as Chipotle urges viewers to “Cultivate a Better World.” Two years later, the message reemerges in the brand’s latest ad, a three-minute viral video simply titled “The Scarecrow”. The animation, launched on September 12, paints a dismal future where factory farming dominates the world of food processing. While the story differs, the somber tone and anti-factory message is consistent.

The ad and accompanying iOS game have been both applauded and scrutinized, as some commend Chipotle for their efforts while others question their validity. Using our social media analytics platform ForSight, we broke down the social conversation around the campaign beyond basic sentiment. We also explored the social discussion about the ad and analyzed how the ad affected perceptions of the brand in general.

Social Media Analysis of “The Scarecrow” Ad

When analyzing the conversation on Twitter from September 12-22, ForSight found that the tweets were overwhelmingly positive at 98%. On the day of the video’s release, 66% of the conversation was praise for the visuals and Fiona Apple’s cover of “Pure Imagination”.

Chipolte Viral marketing campaign proportion of posts opinion analysis

Though the category of general praise represented the majority of tweets throughout the course of the following weeks, an increasing segment of the conversation pointed to the ad’s innovative nature and strong storytelling. Around 12% of tweets considered Chipotle’s ad to be revolutionary and claimed that the company has set the standard in values-based advertising. Twitter users also praised the emotional elements of the video; this portion, though only 7% of the conversation, has grown 50% since September 12.

Awesome, Bold and Innovative ad move by Chipotle. Actually, I love this move and we will see more brands follow… http://t.co/99tjHTb763

— David Wang (@luminatelove) September 13, 2013

I believe so much in the message of this marketing campaign that I cried. Good work @ChipotleTweets (via @LinkedIn) http://t.co/57DmgHY6Yb

— AnnaProsserRobinson (@AnnaProsser) September 17, 2013

Despite focusing on developing the company’s overall brand image rather than being a hard sell, the video also led a small group of users to crave or purchase Chipotle after watching.

While traditional media has been fairly critical of the campaign, as some doubt the company is as virtuous as they claim, only 2% of the social conversation was negative. Most of the criticisms lie in the video’s portrayal of the agricultural industry. There was also a short spike in negative discussion on September 19, after Funny or Die posted a parody video that calls out the brand’s questionable claims; the spike, however, did little to influence the overall opinion expressed on social media.

Honest Scarecrow – watch more funny videos

Impact of the Ad on the Chipotle Brand

Our brand-level analysis of social media posts about Chipotle show that although users widely praised “The Scarecrow” ad campaign, the conversation around Chipotle itself remained essentially the same.

Chipolte Viral marketing campaign proportion of posts opinion analysis 2

The opinion analysis, ran from September 1-22, showed that the social conversation about Chipotle exhibited consistent trends both before and after the ad’s release. Around 43% of tweets voiced a craving for Chipotle, and this remains consistent throughout the month. Though there is a short spike in discussion of the ad on September 12 and 13, the campaign appears to have had little effect on shaping the overall brand conversation.

When looking at users’ perceptions of Chipotle in light of the new campaign, the social conversation, especially in terms of craving and purchasing from the brand, barely changed. The response to “The Scarecrow” has been largely positive, but, when considering the little influence it has had on the brand image overall, the ad appears to fall out of sight of the company’s key audience.

To learn more about consumer perceptions in ad campaigns, download our brand perceptions case study on the UK Lucozade sports drink rebranding campaign.