Content Marketing and Storytelling: How Chipotle is Raising the Bar

by Ken Mueller on January 29, 2014 · 9 comments

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farmed and dangerous Content Marketing and Storytelling: How Chipotle is Raising the BarI’m currently having a man crush, er…eatery crush…with Chipotle. Funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever even eaten at one, and the closest one is about a half-hour away, in a direction I never really go.

But as a small business owner, and a marketer, I just love their business model, and how they integrate it into all of their marketing efforts.

Chipotle’s latest venture into the world of content marketing is their recently announced satirical comedy original video series, “Farmed and Dangerous,” which will premiere on Hulu on February 17th. While I haven’t seen any of the episodes yet, I expect big things based on the trailer. The show is more than just a satirical swipe at the practice of factory farming and corporate agriculture.

High production values, professional actors, including the very recognizable character actor Ray Price, and some rather witty writing promise that this won’t be just any old forced corporate sponsored program (read: Geico and their ill-fated, and unfunny, Caveman series).

When we talk about content marketing, most of us think about blogging, or perhaps some other type of written content. And then of course there are podcasts. But videos can be one of the most effective forms of content marketing, when done well. And while it’s a gutsy move, Chipotle has been working up to this for a few years.

First, they have made the idea of sustainability and organic farming a part of their core culture. Then they have integrated that into their marketing, not just in terms of touting their own product and brand, but in seeking to drive the conversation and create change within their industry and the broader agricultural industry. The fully interactive Chipotle website is just one aspect of that. Videos like last year’s animated short, “The Scarecrow,” and also “Back to the Start” featuring Willie Nelson singing a Coldplay song, are precursors to this next logical step in brand storytelling, that moves seamlessly across channels.

The problem with doing any sort of social or digital marketing is that the space is rather saturated, and there is a lot of clutter. A lot of businesses are doing all sorts of content marketing, and it makes it harder for our content to get through. For some, they try to fight back by shouting louder, but the best way for the cream to rise to the top is to focus on creating exception content. And this is exactly what Chipotle is doing with “Farmed and Dangerous,” and their exploding cows.

Because this is such a gutsy move, they are already getting lots of press and blog attention. People are watching the trailer, and if they are anything like me, they are eagerly anticipating this four-episode series. And by creating their content in a culture that is spending more time on Hulu and Netflix, where people are seeking out unique entertainment, they are priming the pumps of success. Add to this that the show apparently will have no explicit ties to Chipotle in terms of product mentions. This is a smart move in that the program will stand on its own merit, all the while educating people in a format other than a documentary, which would have a much narrower audience appeal.

I have no idea how well “Farmed and Dangerous” will be received, but if the content is as good as I suspect, this could open up a whole new avenue for Chipotle and other brands. A successful launch of this series could create more of a demand, both for this particular series, and others like it. Netflix has already shown great promise with original programming, and Hulu is creating its own slate of original programs. One of the ways to make this happen more often is through partnerships with brands, but only if that programming isn’t seen as too much of a marketing or advertising tool.

As for the rest of us in the small business and marketing field, what can we learn?

We certainly don’t have the budget or resources to do what Chipotle is doing, but it can give us some ideas. I think the most important lesson is that Chipotle has made a commitment to a certain type of business model, a cause, that is at the core of their culture, and drives everything they do, including their content marketing. It’s not just about Chipotle, it’s about a commitment to a bigger picture that seeks to change the overall external culture, not just sell food.

And then, find ways to communicate your mission, your cause, across a variety of channels via great quality content. It probably wont be in the form of a highly produced video sitcom, but it doesn’t have to be. Just make sure that you don’t think of your content marketing as just a means to selling product. It needs to be about more; about your true vision and mission for why you do what you do.

What can you learn from Chipotle’s new efforts in content marketing?

 

 

 Content Marketing and Storytelling: How Chipotle is Raising the Bar
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2 comments
WaltGoshert
WaltGoshert

Ken,


Great insights of the Chipotle marketing story.


Back in the 90's I lived about a half a mile from the original Chipotle near DU.


Ate there about once a week when they first opened... then discovered an even better burrito spot: Chez Jose.


Chez Jose at one time had two Denver locations. Now they only have one.


Even though Chez Jose had the better burrito... Chipotle sure has the better marketing.


Amazing to see how one little burrito shop has exploded.


Walt



KenMueller
KenMueller moderator

@WaltGoshert Yeah, they've done a great job of growing and marketing, particularly in relation to their core mission. I really think that's a big part of why it works, and resonates with a good portion of the population that is becoming more health conscious and more interested in organic food.

Trackbacks

  1. […] I’m currently having a man crush, er…eatery crush…with Chipotle. Funny thing is, I don’t think I’ve ever even eaten at one, and the closest one is about a half-hour away, in a direction I never really go. But as a small business owner, and a marketer, I just love their business model, and …  […]

  2. […] The problem with doing any sort of social or digital marketing is that the space is rather saturated, and there is a lot of clutter. A lot of businesses are doing all sorts of content marketing, and it makes it harder for our content to …  […]

  3. […] only a step in the right direction, but I hope that it’s part of an overall shift in their cultural mindset and business model. Sure, they might have ulterior motives, but still a good move. […]

  4. […] this year, we have seen the adoption of brand stories in multi-episode web productions like Chipotle’s Farmed and Dangerous, Sony Cracker’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee shown during the Super Bowl, and the […]

  5. […] or say they aren’t going far enough. But you have to start somewhere. And each step raises the bar for others in the industry. This is the sort of thing ArCompany blogs about here regularly with the […]

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