If you watch “Farmed and Dangerous” on Hulu these days, you’ll come across a commercial that might make you wonder.
Among the many (many, many) spots within this four-part sitcom is one for Ben & Jerry’s, the venerable hippie ice cream brand that was “natural” long before it became a trend, and a product that fits perfectly with the sitcom.
The comedy is produced for Chipotle’s, though viewers don't necessarily know it. The fast-food chain isn’t explicitly mentioned in the plot, but its point-of-view is certainly featured.
The Mexican restaurant favors sustainable agriculture and is repelled by industrial, agri-business farming techniques, Those are the black-and-white hats in “Farmed and Dangerous,” which revolves around the machinations of the Industrial Food Image Board, a PR firm, to douse criticism of a new (fictional) oil-based “petro-pellet” feed for cows. It has lots of benefits to big-business farmers, but creates cows that tend to explode. It goes on from there.
To some people in the online video advertising business, “Farmed and Dangerous,” created by the Piro agency for Chipotle, is a brilliant piece of native advertising, so neatly packaged on Hulu that its advocacy just comes off as entertainment with a minimum of lecturing--and a total absence of logos.
It’s “sustainable” message is the same one Ben & Jerry’s has preached since way back when Jerry Garcia roamed on Earth.
When marketers at Ben & Jerry’s ice cream read about “Farmed and Dangerous” bells went off. “We realized this is the kind of project we wanted to support,” says Jay Curley, the senior global marketing director for the brand.
And lickety-split, the new ad was created using existing footage, apparently from its Supporting Happy Cows campaign. “What exactly does a happy cow look like?” voices Jerry Greefield in the new spot, and then goes on to say Ben & Jerry’s won’t be happy until “every possible ingredient” is “ethically sourced, non-GMO sourced and fair trade certified.”
(I’m kind of sorry I added the link to YouTube, whereas of this morning, it had been seen less than 60 times; you will see the commercial just about that many times in four 20-minute episodes of “Farmed and Dangerous.” Hulu really piles those ads in there, quite unhealthily for sustaining happy viewers.)
What results is an ad for Chipotle’s, supported by a like-minded Ben & Jerry’s ad, which sounds like a unique situation--an advocacy/image ad within an advocacy/image program from another brand.
Curley says the brand called Chipotle’s to get an OK before going ahead—“We didn’t want to look like we hijacking their message.” But in fact, Ben & Jerry’s is piggybacking (agreeably), at least. “The show supports our core values, and we want to support shows like this,” Curley says, who also explained that although Ben & Jerry’s has been owned by ginormous brand conglom Unilever since 2001, the ice cream maintains a separate board of directors, food sourcing code, social mission and philanthropy.