Farming a Responsible Ad Campaign: Chipotle's Scarecrow

Posted on February 11th 2014

Farming a Responsible Ad Campaign: Chipotle's Scarecrow

“Is there anything sadder than the foods of the 1950s? Canned, frozen, packaged concoctions, served up by the plateful, three meals per day; in an era in which the supermarket was king, the farmer’s market was…well…for farmers, and the word ‘locavore’ sounded vaguely like a mythical beast.” -Jeffrey Kluger

chipotle scarecrow ad

In 1910, the population was at 93 million and the number of farms and ranches across America totaled 6.4 million. A hundred years later and our population has grown to 309 million, while our farms and ranches have dropped to just 2.2 million.

The question is, what happened to our farms and ranches? Innovations in food processing and distribution…scientific advances in plant and animal breeding (crop hybridization, GMO usage)…the Industrial Revolution and the growth of American business were good for the economy…but not for the American farm.

Farm-to-Table Is…Not New
“Raw ingredients trump recipes every time; farmers and ranchers who coax the best from the earth can make any of us appear to be a great cook.” -Judy Rodgers

Everyone’s endorsing the farm-to-table movement…and we’re all willing to throw down a good chunk of money for the ability to eat a cow whose name and back story we know (think Portlandia and their chicken dinner).

Fifty…sixty years ago, though, a meal like that wasn’t considered farm-to-table.

It was Tuesday night dinner.

Perhaps that’s what we’re all seeking when we eat at a farm-to-table restaurant, that nostalgia for simplistic living. We’re all Scarecrows at heart, fighting off the industrial crows that threaten our health and sanity with their processed food stuffs and pink slime.


Chipotle (yes, that Chipotle), in their new ad campaign, wants Americans to start asking questions about their food. Ask where it came from, what it was fed, how it was treated. Don’t just be a complacent scarecrow; fight for good food:

The commercial doesn’t necessarily make you want to eat at Chipotle; it may even make you want to go vegan just on principle (sad-eyed cows hurt my heart). Whatever your takeaway from the video, though, the concept is standing up and fighting for good food, for healthy food. You’re the scarecrow who does that, who takes a stand. You’re the one who will cultivate a better world.

Why It Works!
“Teaching kids how to feed themselves and how to live in a community responsibly is the center of an education.” -Alice Waters

  1. The commercial is powerful. From a bleak beginning to an upbeat ending with enough back story in the middle to make it interesting.
  2. The music is haunting. Fiona Apple’s voice always sounds like the voice playing over an airport loudspeaker in a dystopian universe.
  3. The video game is fun – seriously. I played it…strictly for research purposes, of course.
  4. The message is easy to understand. We need to find our way back to farming, to fresh ingredients, in order to fight against a future of processed foods. We do this by “cultivating a better world.”

A commercial that connects with you – pulls at heart strings or makes you laugh – produces better results than one that tries to sell you something from the get go. Whatever your opinion of Chipotle, you have to admit they did a great job of creating a video that sticks with you (like their burritos), even if just for a little while.


Meghan Hunt

Despite my noir sensibilities and fabulous forties fashion sense, I'm not a dame to kill for. I'm a writer - and right now I've hitched my horse to ADG Creative, a strategic communications company based in Columbia, Maryland. Check us out at if you're interested in learning more information! 

[For the record, my opinions are my own and do not reflect those of ADG Creative.]


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