Four lessons to take away from Chipotle’s short film “The Scarecrow”

I grew up listening to stories, as I’m sure did many of you. My parents used stories as a way to teach me lessons and values. As I grow up, those stories still resonate with me.

Stories and storytelling can be an effective and engaging way to communicate messages. Companies can even use these methods to help promote their brand.

Chipotle Mexican Grill’s advertisement “The Scarecrow” provides a great example of successfully using the art of storytelling to help promote brand values.

Chipotle’s “The Scarecrow”

Chipotle’s newest advertisement, which takes the form of a computer-animated short film, uses storytelling to transmit the company’s brand values to the public. I encourage you to take the time to watch the short film.

After watching the film, what would you guess Chipotle’s brand values are?

Chipotle is a fast food restaurant chain that promises to give customers Food with Integrity, which is the company’s slogan. This means the company is committed to using “the very best ingredients.” This means ingredients that come from sources that respect animals, the environment, and farmers. Chipotle is set on being a socially responsible and sustainable company.

According to Marc Crumpacker, Chipotle’s chief marketing officer, the company “created “The Scarecrow” game and film as an entertaining and engaging way to help people better understand the difference between processed food and the real thing.”

Four lessons to take away from “The Scarecrow”

1. Listen to your target audience

listenCrumpacker explains that Millennials (Chipotle’s core target audience) are “skeptical of brands that perpetuate themselves.” As such, Chipotle chose to take a minimalist approach to the showing of their logo. In fact, it can only be seen for a few seconds at the very end of the short film.

In public relations we are told that it is essential to analyze your target audience, both in terms of demographic and psychographic information. The Importance of Listening in PR states that it is important to make sure that your brand strategy is based on what your customer wants. Chipotle does a great job at taking this psychographic information and using it effectively for the film.

Listening to the target audience allows you to better understand how they see the world and why they act the way that they do. This allows the business to develop a campaign or program that caters to the audiences’ needs and wants, in turn generating successful results.

2. The strength of social media

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According to Chipotle Scarecrow Makes Enemies to Win Customers author David Vinjamuri, Chipotle did not spend any money to advertise the video on paid media. Rather, it relied on social shares to get the message across. Social shares mean people embedding the video in their blog, tweeting it, or sharing it on Facebook. Vinjamuri says using social media shares is a great strategy because it ensures that nearly all views are driven by recommendation, which drastically increases engagement.

I find it very insightful that the company is able to get so much publicity for the video, and thus for its brand, by relying solely on social media and word of mouth. The ability to use social media as opposed to traditional marketing and yield the same results is a fairly new phenomenon. Successful results using social media, such as those achieved by Chipotle, provide insight into the way of the future.

3. Make your message customer-focused

FruitThe slogan Cultivate a Better World is seen at the end of the short film. The Biggest Marketing Lesson From Chipotle’s Scarecrow Video says that this slogan helps to reveal the message behind Chipotle’s story. The idea is to help create a better world for our children, the animals, and all of us in general. People are motivated by self-interest and the company uses this to their advantage by casting the customer as the hero, not the product or company. The company promotes its brand values in a way that effectively engages the consumer.

Take a moment to think about how your product or company can help people. Now, use your answer to help you start to draft your customer-focused story.

4. The importance of evaluation and feedback

feedback-heads1Take a moment to look at the word cloud above. Just looking at all these words should showcase the benefits of feedback.

Chipotle is continuously improving in its ability to gain attention and publicity for its videos. In 2011, Chipotle released its first short film, called “Back to the Start.” Looking at the numbers, you can see that they have improved. “Back to the Start” has received slightly over 8 million views since its release, significantly less than the 8.6 million views that “The Scarecrow’” received in just a few short months.

The ability to improve on past performances is something that all businesses should strive to do. Being a public relations student, my professors constantly stress the need to evaluate a program or campaign and look at the feedback that it receives, be it positive or negative, to better the campaign or program for next time. Chipotle has clearly done a great job at taking feedback and using it to their advantage to improve the visibility of its brand and brand values.

Overall, Chipotle made brilliant use of social media, and created an emotional customer-focused message about changing to world, to help spread the word about its brand values. Leave a comment explaining your views on the video.