14 Jul 2016

Chipotle serves up a love story

Chipotle is back with a new animated film as it seeks to win over audiences with a food-based love story.

The film, called ‘A Love Story’ launched last week online and in US cinemas. It follows two young kids who operate rival drink-stands before a growing rivalry sees them grow from their freshly and hand squeezed drink stands, to create massive fast-food empires brimming with processed and unnatural products.

Like all Chipotle advertising, the film’s message is all about natural unprocessed products and Chipotle’s positioning as ‘food with integrity’.

This is the third film by Chipotle and it features all the hallmarks of the previous two films: high-quality animation, seamless storytelling, no dialogue, highly emotive messaging and a cover of a popular song - Backstreet Boys, “I Want it That Way”, sung by Brittany Howard (Alabama Shakes) and Jim James (My Morning Jacket). 

Unlike the previous films, this film is pushing more than just the brand message, with Chipotle hoping to reengage with customers and launch its new Chiptopia loyalty program.

And it couldn’t come at a more important time for the brand, which is struggling to shake off the stigma of major health scares last year after dozens of customers feel ill from eating at its US restaurants which experienced serious e.coli outbreaks.

Not to mention the added embarrassment caused by the high profile arrest of Chipotle’s Chief Creative and Development Officer Mark Crumpacker for cocaine possession charges.

With so much negative press and declining sales - Chipotle posted its first quarterly loss as a public company last quarter – Chipotle is pinning its hopes on the loyalty program to help turn its fortunes around.

Mark Shambura, Chipotle's director of brand marketing told Ad Age, “While we obviously have some trust to regain, the film isn't specifically about food safety at all. Our commitment to sourcing better ingredients and cooking those in our restaurants every day using classic cooking techniques have not wavered or changed. Some of our procedures have changed as it relates to enhanced food safety, but the film was not a place where we were going to focus on that specifically."

Chipotle spokesman Chris Arnold said, "Fundamentally these things are really primarily brand-building or brand-ethos pieces. The timing made sense to specifically connect it to Chiptopia as well."

The film was created by CAA Marketing and animation production company Passion Pictures, and directed by Saschka Unseld.

'A Love Story' is another great film from Chipotle but it lacks the punch of the first two films. It may be that 'Back to The Start' and 'The Scarecrow' were so impactful, or that the message is familiar and therefore the story is more predictable, whatever the reason this film does not reach the same heights as its predecessors.

That’s not to say it is not good. In fact, it is very good. The storytelling is well done, the film itself is excellent and it gets the message across well. ‘A Love Story’ fits perfectly within Chipotle’s strategic positioning of ‘Food with Integrity’. 

Like all the Chipotle films, the strategy is very straightforward. The brand highlights the dark, evil, unnatural processed hell of Big Food against the natural, healthy, sustainable Chipotle and asks the viewer to choose a side.

Much of Chipotle’s success with these films has been the brand’s ability to maintain its authenticity, something that seems slightly shaken by its heath issues. However, putting that aside this film again speaks strongly to the market about the brand’s responsible food message and its commitment to natural, healthy and sustainable food.

The big question is whether this film can help bring customers back to the store and help restore the brand’s declining profits. That, of course, is yet to be seen.  However, Forbes reports that profits are projected to drop 7% this year suggesting the brand is far from out of the woods. 

The film carries a more positive, optimistic message than The Scarecrow did, but it has to the brand isn't in the position it was a few years ago. While this film still takes aim at the others, it paints them more as misguided corporations that have lost their way, rather than big evil conglomerates. 

Also, the title and story theme is no accident, Chipotle are trying to remind lapsed customers about the brand that they loved. The film is a story of redemption and Chipotle is hoping people can forgive and rekindle the romance. 

With more than 4.5 million views on YouTube is just one week it's certainly attracting attention. However, time will tell if this film can woo audiences and win over consumers hearts. 

Chipotle has added another strong film to its collection and again proven why it is a leader in branded entertainment. This is a strong showing from a seasoned brand. 



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