Anyone who’s seen a Pixar short (here’s our favorite) knows the remarkable ability that the animated films have to pull at the heartstrings. Working with Moonbot Studios (founded by a former Pixar employee, naturally) and CAA Marketing, Chipotle has struck similar emotional gold with “The Scarecrow,” its new video and mobile game designed to expose the horrors of America’s industrial farming system.
Watch the film and try not to feel a certain type of way for the scarecrow character, who wanders through an anonymous, dystopian cityscape to the melancholy sounds of Fiona Apple singing “Pure Imagination,” growing increasingly despaired as he discovers how the food everyone is eating around him is made: chickens injected with needles, cows looking forlorn and immobile in metal pens, robotics working the factory line, and so on.
Eventually, the scarecrow returns to his bumpkin pad outside the city, finds a pepper growing on his humble little farm, and has a flash of inspiration. Next thing you know, he’s back in the city working his own food stand, serving vaguely Chipotle-esque veggie burritos and drawing customers away from the sinister fast-food machine next door.
Needless to say, this quite the creation myth for Chipotle, a chain originally funded by the McDonald’s Corporation. First of all, the tale would suggest that Chipotle is a vegetable-driven restaurant, even though it serves mostly meat (and has even said that it would consider loosening its “responsibly raised” beef standards when necessary to keep up with demand). And as Eater points out, the idea of small farmers like Mr. Scarecrow servicing the sourcing needs of a company on Chipotle’s scale (more than 1,500 locations in the U.S., Canada, and U.K.) is more than a little absurd.
Still, “The Scarecrow”—much like Chipotle’s previous animated short—is an effective marketing gimmick and, removed from the politics of it all, just a damn good video. Though if you’re looking for an even more powerful condemnation of industrial meat production, check out this chilling clip from SAMSARA.
Also: If you want to play the iPhone game, in which you must protect your veggies from evil Crowbots, you can download it here—it’ll probably help you pass the time while waiting for your burrito bowl at Chipotle.