So Much More Than An Ad

by , Feb 15, 2012, 9:35 AM
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For those that watched the Grammys (hereafter known as the Adelies) on Sunday night, it’s likely you saw one of the most remarkable and striking pieces of work to have graced our screens in a long time.

No, I’m talking about the apparently wonderful performances by Adele or Jennifer Hudson.  I’m talking about an ad.  To be precise, the ad for Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Now as those that know me are aware, I seldom talk about ads in such terms. In fact, I might not actually use the word “ad” to describe this piece of communication. It is so much more than that, being part of an ongoing ethical foundation that the company has built and committed itself to.

And I should make clear at this point that on Sunday night, I wasn’t watching TV at all. I became aware of the Chipotle video because David Berkowitz of 360i posted a link on Facebook -- and it popped up in my news feed while I was writing an unrelated piece.

If you haven’t seen the ad yet, I highly recommend you take the time to do so.  It excels on a number of levels.

The Creative -- from the haunting rendition of Coldplay’s “Back to the Start” to the character and quality of the animation, it is the kind of work that takes endless ingenuity and real craft to pull off. And that’s after you’ve got the thing that all good ads need: a great idea.

Media Placement -- with a soundtrack like that where else would you want to debut the ad? Plus, the younger-skewing audience may be more likely to respond to the message.

The Message -- Chipotle has long since positioned itself as the fast-food place with a difference. None of the conventional aspects of the fast-food experience seen as negatives in many people’s eyes are here. The company sources its beef from cattle that have never been treated with antibiotics or hormones. The cattle providing the milk (and cheese) for the chain have only eaten food devoid of animal matter.  It supports a number of sustainable agriculture initiatives and recently sponsored TEDx Manhattan -- Changing The Way We Eat conference.  Bottom line is that Chipotle walks the talk we heard in the ad.

 Social Media Integration --Frankly David Berkowitz is among those better positioned to comment on this than I, but the fact I discovered the ad in my Facebook news feed and then linked through to the full video on the Chipotle web site says something. I’ve subsequently watched the fascinating “making of” video.  All in all, out of pure interest driven by the creative and the message I spent about 20 minutes or so interacting with content core to the brands values that night.
Frankly, Chipotle’s marketing is the stuff of case studies.  What really made this piece of work so powerful was not only the points above, but the fact that Chipotle has aligned itself with a particular position that impacts its business, society and how we live.  

Not everyone will agree with them, but by taking a position and living up to it, the brand comes to stand for something more meaningful than anything based solely on price, quality or trying to be all things to all people. This is a real brand personality brought to life.


 

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