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Chipotle’s new Scarecrow campaign is a cross-channel fiesta

What are the elements of a great cross-channel campaign? It’s sort of like a burrito

By Barrie Moore • General Manager, Antics Digital Marketing • September 16, 2013

The great thing about burritos is that there are endless combinations to choose from and everyone can make their own exactly as they like it.

The same is true for a great cross-channel marketing campaign, there is something for everyone and each person can have their own unique experience.

Chipotle’s new Scarecrow campaign is a great example of a cross-channel promotion where each piece is enticing, but when rolled all together, the whole becomes even more appealing.

The centerpiece is a marvelous bit of storytelling in the form of a poignant animation (created by MoonBot Studios) set to a remake of “Pure Imagination” sung by Fiona Apple. The video tells a kind of morality tale about the evils of industrial food production and the new hope that sustainable agriculture can bring to our world. Maybe it doesn’t sound as compelling when I tell it, but believe me, you will be caught up in the story and rooting for the Scarecrow farmer by the end. I almost gave it a standing ovation right here in my office when it was over.

The video can be seen on chipotle.com and YouTube , where you can also find behind the scenes videos and trailers for the next campaign component, a downloadable game for iPad and iPhone.  When you play the game you can earn “stars”, and when you earn enough “stars”, you get a coupon for free food. A campaign microsite gives you more details on the video and the game, but also highlights inspiring leaders in the sustainable food movement. (Shout out to Will Allen of Growing Power, who is nothing short of a miracle worker, BTW.) According to Adweek, the Fiona Apple song will be released on iTunes and a portion of sales will go to support the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.

So what are the elements that make this a campaign to admire, aside from a budget of eleventy-million dollars?

Something for everyone: Nostalgia, for some of us alive in the 70’s who will recognize “Pure Imagination”  from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, YouTube, for those who know no other way of watching video, games for the dexterous and young at heart, meaningful dialog for those loyal to the sustainable food cause and coupons for the hungry and thrifty.

Storytelling: The Scarecrow uses classic storytelling techniques; our hero goes on a journey and confronts trials and tribulations, but through the strength of his character and courage, finds a new way to triumph in the end. You know we are talking about Chipotle, right? I’m not a fan of any fast food, but this story had me re-thinking my preconceived notions of what fast food might be capable of.

Inspiration: By connecting their brand to the larger sustainable food movement, and providing not only entertainment content, but information on people who are making a difference and ways Chipotle supports the cause, they open a dialog that goes beyond any specific campaign and taps into an emotional space that leads to a passionate following.

Rewards: Games intrinsically bring their own rewards as you score points and master levels, but by offering coupons for free food there is an added incentive to continue the engagement with the brand even after the initial novelty of the Scarecrow game might wear off. And by making a charitable contribution through the purchase of the Fiona Apple song, they have provided a reward for those more altruistically oriented.

Fun: This is a campaign that can be enjoyed online, on your phone, through your eyes, ears, fingers, nose and mouth, a true multi-sensory experience. The imagery in the video is arresting, the song is haunting, the game is clever, the cause is powerful, and I’ll admit it, my carnitas taco for lunch was actually pretty darn good.

Olé Chipotle!

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