"The Scarecrow" scare tactic

The scarecrow is an original creature used to prevent pests like birds and small mammals from harming crops in farm fields. This old school scare tactic has been outdated as farmers and ranchers have adapted and integrated new protective actions like nets and aluminum “reflectors”.

However, there is another business that is trying to reinvent the scarecrow as a scare tactic. Chipotle, the Mexican food chain restaurant, has created a new application for iPhone and iPad called The Scarecrow. This app allows users to portray a Scarecrow and “join the quest for wholesome, sustainable food.” Please watch the video below that depicts the backstory of the game.


As a fellow farmer and advocate, this video and app are confusing to me. The advertising group that put together the promo video is clearly focused on modernization. Huffington Post thought it was effective at pulling at the “heartstrings” of the audience. However, the entire video is based on misinforming the audience.

  • As introduction to the video, using the song, “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. This video depicts pure imagination of what the agriculture industry and food production really are. 
  • I have never seen and doubt I ever will see a farm where the farmers and animals are on conveyer belts. 
    • Our farmers and ranchers raise livestock in safe, spacious environments that allow not only the safety of their offspring and selves, but of the farmers and consumers. We don’t want any illnesses or physical aliments of our animals. 
    • In addition, these “factory farms” are in the middle of a city. I don’t know about you, but I don’t think any farm would deliberately choose to farm in a city.
    • One of my friends also pointed out that Scarecrow with the rest of the workers could be depicted as a migrant worker at the facility. Is that really how they feel about the people who serve a large role in fruit and vegetable production in our country?
  • As Scarecrow continues his travels, he goes away from this city to find a house, essentially in the middle of no where with fresh vegetables he picks to make his own meals–Chipotle burritos. 

Sure, he is being an entrepreneur, but this raises more questions and confusion about the values and campaign.

  • The Scarecrow does not raise any of his own livestock for meat. Shouldn’t they depict the way they raise their animals if they want a compelling argument?
  • Why is the farm so far away when Chipotle focuses on providing “locally raised, organic products”? 
    • What is their definition of local anyhow? If you read the fine print about their food products (see below), they are only local when it is available.
  • If the idea of this game is to help Scarecrow grow sustainably, why did he only have one plant and he did not show nurturing of it for more produce?

    It is interesting that Chipotle thrives on the values mentioned above, but doesn’t demonstrate them in this video. Where is the consistency in their brand messaging?

    This example proves that research is needed before believing all that a company or organization tells you. Scare tactics are the easy way a company can choose to message and advertise to an audience. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t persuade me to want to buy their product when they intentionally misinform the public about food production.

    Perhaps we should share our thoughts with Chipotle about the misinformation they are doing. When agricultural advocates did that about Panera’s EZ Chicken campaign, it was easy to #PluckEZChicken. What are we going to do about it?

    This Scarecrow is scary…until you see what it is stuff with.

    Update: Here is an interesting perspective on the content marketing of this video. I agree it was good, but it was still hurting the most important audience of the story: the majority of farmers and ranchers producing food for the world.