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September 18, 2013

Chipotle's Kinda Brilliant Brave New World Propaganda Film for Chicken Tortilla Soup

David Harsanyi calls it "preposterous," which I suppose is true enough, but then, it's an advertisement.

The Onion just made me actually chuckle for once with a headline. Hey, advertising is inherently preposterous.

It's not so much that the ad is preposterous is that it's so... Ruthless. The ad essentially calls all of Chipotle's competitors murderers and pedophiles. It really pushes the line as far as disparaging competitors. It's one thing to do a cooked-up Taste Test. But this employs all the tricks of the greatest propaganda medium ever created -- moving pictures + sound -- and mixes them together with what Harsanyi suggests is food paranoia to attack all fast-food rivals as monsters.

I find it interesting in a science-fiction way: Will this be how advertising is done in the future? Basically the fast-food commercial equivalent of the infamous Daisy Ad?

Probably! Why not. We are constantly bombarded with huckster messaging. We tune it all out. To get attention, you have do a message really well, and it helps to go outrageous and dark and vicious with it.

If you want attention, pick a fight. That's an old bit of wisdom in the old newspaper trades, I think.

Harsanyi takes Chipotle to task for an attack on modern agribusiness...

As big a fan as I am of Chipotle’s brand of fast food – fighting for the little guy with a mere 1,500 restaurants and $800 million in revenue last year! – I enjoy it best without self righteousness that taps into paranoia about food, namely genetically modified crops, Big Ag and factory farming.

What it doesn’t do is tell us where “food comes from.” The Chipotle Scarecrow slogs to his miserable job at a smoke-spewing factory where nothing grows but caged chickens and cows. For some strange reason, in this imaginary world, government subsidized Big Agriculture chooses to leave massive swaths of land fallow or desolate, when, in fact, where food actually comes from, farm productivity has increased dramatically over the past decades and the resources required to keep production high has declined. Not exactly the stuff of dystopia.

That's true, and yet we really don't know the effects of growth hormones and various synthesized chemfeeds fed to animals which ultimately wind up inside of us. Eh. I'm not really in a panic about it, but I can't say I've done the Science myself and determined that all of this is Good For You.

There's a question here as to the proper conservative take. Conservatives appreciate tradition and the old ways and are skeptical of the new. But is it really a conservative take to champion newfangled ways of farming (including exciting new uses for chemicals and hormones) that got their start sometime between the 30s and 60s?

That's not terribly old, actually. That's pretty recent.

I'm actually not taking sides; I'm sort of in the "I don't care" camp. I do know the modern tomato, the beefsteak, was bred for reasons other than taste (the thick, rubbery skin protects it in transport) and it does in fact taste like it was bred for efficiency, not taste.

Harsanyi is quite right to push back against silly elements of food puritanism, and put in a good word for the man who saved a Billion Human Lives, but I don't think I have to uncritically accept every efficiency-driven technique a large corporation chooses to utilize.

Eh, I don't care. I just think the ad is interesting. Not because it's a good piece of filmmaking (though it is that), but because it looks like a glimmer of The Future.

And I'm not saying The Future will be a good place, as mega-corporations hire psychologists and gifted artists to craft more and more aggressive and emotionally stirring propaganda works for cars, beer, processed food, and birth control pills. But it's interesting to catch a glimpse of it anyway.


Via @johnekdahl, a bit from the old Mr. Show show.

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posted by Ace at 04:59 PM

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