There are few things more powerful than that exhilarating feeling after a great movie, or the return of your favorite TV series, or an inspiring documentary. Without realizing it, you find yourself rattling off lines, and though you’ve still yet to master the whole e=mc2 thing, you’re somehow able to quote entire scenes after just one viewing. And while the fate of teen vampires in ‘Twilight’ isn’t likely to save the planet, it demonstrates how memorable entertainment can be from an education and retention standpoint. And that is probably what Chipotle Mexican Grill was banking on when they partnered with Magnolia Pictures, Participant Media and River Road Entertainment to promote the documentary, Food, Inc.
Chipotle uses beans that are organically grown, and the company claims to serve more naturally raised meat than any other restaurant worldwide, so it seems like a natural fit to extend their brand, and hence, the awareness of conscious food practices through entertainment experiences like this. The goal is to reinforce their commitment to sustainability to current customers and expand their audience to those who wish to support socially responsible establishments.
“I hope that all our customers see this film,” said Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle, in a statement. “The more they know about where their food comes from, the more they will appreciate what we do.”
Directed by Robert Kenner, the movie itself, which threatens promises “you’ll never look at food the same way again,” focuses on America’s industrialized food system and its effect on our environment, health, economy and workers’ rights. The film also features commentary from authors Michael Pollan (The Omnivore’s Dilemma and In Defense of Food) and Eric Schlosser (Fast Food Nation), who discuss the agenda of major agriculture companies in influencing government policy to their own advantage and the impropriety of modern day food production. It even tackles menu labeling in the hopes of turning a fast food nation into a nutrition-conscious society.
As part of the campaign, Chipotle offered one night of free screenings at a local theater in each city, with special private showings for cities in which the film wasn’t playing. In addition to the screenings, Chipotle created a bonus feature about sustainable agriculture for the Food, Inc. DVD when it is released later this year, effectively entwining their brand with the vision of the movie, and becoming the go-to grill for sustainable snacking.
But this effort doesn’t stop at just educating consumers. Both the Food, Inc. and Chipotle websites feature opportunities for consumers to take part from signing petitions to practical lifestyle solutions such as shopping at your local farmer’s market or participating in meatless Mondays, a movement that’s become very active on Twitter. And with the prominent Chipotle branding, they become the benefactor of delivering a hearty helping of social change, and a guilt-free eating experience. It gives a whole new meaning to lights, camera…. ACTION!