Dining Out Magazine

The Harsh (one Might Say “inconvenient”) Truth About Chipotle’s Issues-based Entertainments.

By Keewood @sellingeating

Farmed and Dangerous starring Ray Wise and his devil pitchforky thing

“The entertainment value isn’t as clear…. Instead of roly-poly pink pigs or captivating mechanical crows, we confront real actors playing characters who seem like cartoons, whose dialog has all the music of talking points.” – Elizabeth Weiss, New Yorker reviewer

When Chipotle first created a longish, stop-motion-animation YouTube clip showing how one farmer couldn’t stand to participate in corporate farming and ultimately returned “Back to the Start,” as Willie Nelson croons while covering a Coldplay song, I loved it. I think everyone did. I still do.

When Chipotle came out with the story of the Scarecrow who was uncomfortable with corporate farming and basically went…well, back to the start (again), I applauded the animation and the content creation strategy. But that one was a little preachy, though, and even manipulative: after realllllly milking the pathos of a big-eyed cow in one scene, they never even hint at The Approved Chipotle Method of killing cows, pigs and chickens for burritos (which they did, tastefully and effectively, in the first effort). The Scarecrow was not as deft.

And now we have Farmed and Dangerous, this month’s Hulu miniseries sponsored by Chipotle but not directly mentioning Chipotle hardly at all (one quick mention late in the series). Again: I applaud the content creation strategy. I think that’s great.

But the first rule of content creation is, or should be, make sure the entire world doesn’t see your agenda stamped all over it.

I was worried from the trailer that Farmed and Dangerous would have that problem.

The New Yorker lady quoted above and this Variety reviewer confirm I was right to worry: 

“Why sit through a food-integrity lecture from a company that clearly has a dog in the fight, even if they sugar-coat the packaging?” – Brian Lowry, Variety TV columnist

Look, Chipotle, you’re doing good by bringing attention to farming practices that could stand a lot of scrutiny. You’re changing the world as other companies change their practices to keep up. But don’t forget people know what you’re up to, and if it’s neither charmingly deft nor fundamentally entertaining, you may train people to stop watching your efforts.

If you can’t create content that people seek and accept as informative or entertaining, then you’re kind of just talking to yourself. Even if you hire a gifted actor like Ray Wise to do the talking.

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