Farmed and Dangerous: Last year, Chipotle’s quest for “wholesome, sustainable food” saw them develop the Scarecrow Game. The game puts you in the shoes of a scarecrow fighting to foil the evil “Crow Foods” and break its hold on food production and supply.
The game was promoted by a beautifully animated short film, aptly titled ‘The Scarecrow’:
In a dystopian fantasy world, all food production is controlled by fictional industrial giant Crow Foods. Scarecrows have been displaced from their traditional role of protecting food, and are now servants to the crows and their evil plans to dominate the food system. Dreaming of something better, a lone scarecrow sets out to provide an alternative to the unsustainable processed food from the factory.
The Scarecrow raised eyebrows, gained accolades and cemented the chain’s commitment to sustainable sourcing. It achieved wall-to-wall, worldwide coverage, with The Guardian positing that the campaign would set the bar for sustainable advertising and Venture Beat calling it the creation of ‘advergaming‘. Not everyone was impressed though, some critics thought the campaign to be manipulative and others felt the film was just too darn depressing and that it had put them off of eating at Chipotle.
Scarecrow looks to have had the desired effect though, as Chipotle are doubling down on original content with a four-part mini-series on Hulu (the on demand platform that brings together shows from some of the main TV networks in the US).
The show premieres on Hulu on February 17 and going by the trailer, they’re not kidding when they say ‘outrageously twisted’: the story centres around a fictional industrial agriculture company ‘Animoil’ that has developed a way to feed cows petroleum-based pellets, called PetroPellets. Cheaper than conventional animal feed, these pellets are completely “organic”, and they’re even available for a number of different livestock (aqua pellets are still in the R&D phase).
They do, however, have one nasty side-effect.
They make the cows explode.
Craziness ensues as the security footage of exploding cattle goes viral and Animoil end up in the midst of a massive PR disaster. Animoil’s CEO Mick Mitcherson is forced into action and tries to regain control over his company’s reputation – while at the same, the audience learns about the dangers of industrial agriculture.
It doesn’t stop there though. Chipotle have created a corporate website for Animoil, where you’ll find the CEO of Animoil Global responding to criticism about the safety of his PetroPellet product (yes, he is also on Twitter @BuckMarshall), as well as some fantastic greenwash in the corporate responsibility section. The site even includes a careers section with some fantastic job opportunities as ‘Astroturf fluffer’ and ‘Interpretive Health and Safety Manager’. Sadly, all the links take you through to a 404 page, but even that is beautifully made.
Chipotle are also connecting their ‘real world’ Twitter account with that of the imaginary CEO Buck Marshall – tweeting a link to an open letter by the CEO ‘to everyone with a mouths‘ in the New York Times.
While I really think the assets created on the back of this campaign are fantastic, I just can’t get the basic premise of exploding cows out of my head: if some people were put off from going to Chipotle after seeing a dystopian, albeit beautifully animated version of the food chain, I wonder how they’re going to react after seeing life-like cows disintegrate in Tarrantino-esque PetroPellet explosions on screen?
I suspect Chipotle is also worried about that effect, because even as it’s had a big hand in Farmed and Dangerous’ development, according to Time Magazine, Chipotle is only referenced once in four episodes, and the chain isn’t mentioned in the opening or closing credits of the show at all.
Also, going by this response to Chipotle’s tweet above, some people might actually think Animoil is real!?
Facebook Paper: It seems Flipboard, Pulse and Medium have had a remarkable effect on Facebook’s thinking as they borrow a lot of the look and feel of those platforms to create what looks like a dramatic and completely beautiful re-imagining of the Facebook mobile interface.
Facebook Paper is all about story telling and about making content look good – while at the same time keeping the features we’re so used to from Facebook in the foreground. Also, going by the intro film, Facebook has fully committed to mobile:
- Paper uses the entire screen, with only “like”, “share” and “reply” buttons appearing in the bottom left corner,
- it also makes full use of the accelerometer, where you’ll need to tilt your phone to see the whole image (as groovy as this is, I do hope there’s a way to switch it off as it could get annoying),
- and there’s not a flippin desktop, laptop or tablet in sight. Every person in the film is glued to their phone, ignoring their friends. Dystopian future klaxon!
But more than just looks, Facebook Paper is about an entirely new concept that so far hasn’t really applied to the platform: discovering content. As Re/code notes:
The site has a wealth of public content on its network, posted openly by users so that any other Facebook users can see it. But until now, there hasn’t been an easy way for people to find it. Thus, if Facebook can organize that stuff by topic and make it more easily discoverable, it’ll inspire you to comb through it all — and perhaps to pen your own stuff that much more.
Facebook Paper is set to launch in the US app store on Monday, February 3 – I couldn’t find a release date for the UK.
Google Lego: Two years ago Google unveiled an experiment called ‘Build with Chrome’, a virtual Lego tool that let you play with tiny plastic bricks in your browser – that project is now finally open to everyone and it looks amazing. It only works in Chrome, so yore going to have to download that. Then you can happily spend hours building anything your imagination can muster, anywhere in the world, without having to worry about stepping on a brick in your bare feet, discarding two of those flat pieces because they’ve become inseparable over time, or about running out of pieces in a particular colour.
Bits and bytes
- Coca-Cola were in trouble this week for treating the word ‘gay’ as a swear word on their Facebook page’s “share a Coke” function. Can’t tell if they’ve fixed it or if they’ve taken the whole thing down – I can’t seem to find the virtual personalised can generator app anywhere, so I assume it’s the latter (HT @a_little_wine)
- A bizarre and terrifying post by Naoki Hiroshima about how he had his Paypal, Domain and Facebook profile hacked – all in order to get to his extremely valuable Twitter handle @N (HT @a_little_wine)
- Love Instagram? Love marshmallows? Why not combine the two with boomf, a service that prints your photos onto a marshmallow (HT @a_little_wine)
Videos of the week
The trailer for an inspiring film by Green Lions called Project Wild Thing. The film follows filmmaker and father David Bond as he goes up against the marketing departments of Apple, Disney and Mattel to convince children that nature is so much better than iPads, TV and plastic toys (Disclaimer: @Green_Lions is the production company that, together with @SAS_Creative, have helped us create Sainsbury’s Little Stories, Big Difference films).
Cycling Scotland’s road safety ad – banned because the cyclists featured in the ad don’t wear helmets and ride along in the middle of the flipping’ road. Outrageous. Five people complained to the ASA about this shocking revelation, however they had no problem (or any discernible sense of humour it seems) with cyclists being compared to a horse (HT @a_little_wine).
Super Bowl XLVIII is this Sunday, which means we have a good couple of hours worth of insanely expensive, over the top ads interrupted by footage of strangely padded, HUGE dudes crashing into each other as they chase an egg around a patch of grass for a few seconds at a time to look forward to (not even kidding: an average NFL has more than 100 commercials and just 11 minutes of play). Anyway. Here is Bud Light’s insanely expensive and over the top Super Bowl effort.
And finally: The ticket barrier on the London Underground that sings along to Blur (HT @VictoriaDove for sharing this and to @RitchAmes for creating this masterpiece)