When a good story, well-told, doesn’t tell the right story
I wasn’t planning on posting another commercial critique today. I had customer service, rate integrity, and children’s books on my mind.
But then I came across a new commercial for Chipotle Mexican Grill, and new I had to share it.
Before we get to it, however, I’d like you to check out the commercial I featured last week HERE. In that blog post, I explained why good stories are important in commercials, and why telling them in a compelling manner is important, too. I also noted why the closing lines, voiced by an off-screen announcer, were so effective.
So with that in mind, take a look at this brand-new commercial (which, at over 3 minutes long, is more of a game trailer/web video) and see what you think:
Attracts your attention and creates interest? Check.
Compelling story? Check.
Emotional connection to the viewer? Check, check.
Clear message and call to action? Uhhhhh….
As good as this commercial is, I don’t like it. Not because it’s not a good story, and not because it’s not well-told. This commercial fails, in my opinion, because what it’s promoting is not what the viewer thinks it’s promoting.
Throughout the spot, we see the industrialization of agriculture destroying the American way of life – a common theme in many of Chipotle’s past spots. So the message is: Locally-sourced, sustainable, non-GMO food is better for us, for the animals, for the world. (Keep in mind, I’m not here to debate whether this is true or not; I’m just pointing out that that’s the message.
Then, after three minutes of them pulling me into their story, their call to action is…download our app???
Did I miss something? I was just having my emotions played with and my heartstrings tugged, and was all set for Chipotle to suggest I visit them – but instead of asking me to dine at one of their restaurants, they want me to download a game app! Talk about missed opportunities.
Had the story encouraged me to feel compelled to download the app, I’d probably love the commercial. As it is, though, this story made me feel like supporting local agriculture, buying chemical-free meat, and going to Chipotle Mexican Grille for dinner…
…but, OOPS! That’s not what the folks at Chipotle want me to do. They don’t want me to patronize their restaurant.
They want me to download an app.
Another fail – and a BIG Plus
One other thing that caught my attention – and not in a good way – comes at 2:17, when the scarecrow goes to the farm and picks a fresh vegetable from the vine. Now, he could have picked any veggie there – tomato, onion, corn, whatever - but the very first one he picks…is the Chili’s Grill & Bar logo. I know, I know – Chipotle uses a chili pepper as their logo, too – but Chipotle’s is a black & white artistic rendering of a chili pepper, not a bright red, curvy chili pepper with a green top that looks like it was just pilfered from a Chili’s Bar & Grill sign.
Not a good idea, when you haven’t stated the name of your business in your commercial yet – or haven’t even hinted at a call to action yet.
Which brings me to the Big Plus. For years, I’ve been telling clients and sales reps that the business name does not need to be mentioned in the first 5 seconds of a commercial, nor does it need to be splattered throughout the body of the spot 20 times to make sure the listener remembered it. Heck, I’ve written and produced 60-second radio commercials that don’t give the client name until 45 seconds in! If the story is compelling, the listener (or viewer) will wait for it – and remember it.
I also have to give a “little plus” to their choice of music: the song, “Pure imagination” from the 1971 movie, Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory fits the mood of the production perfectly.
This commercial will help Chipotle get people in the door only because the public has grown accustomed to their style of commercial and their message (even though it was quite muddled this time). I’m sure it’ll become somewhat of a viral hit, too, which will be a positive.
So to say the video won’t be effective is doing it a disservice; a commercial is effective if it works. In this case, if Chipotle gets more people through their doors – but very few download the app – can it be considered an effective commercial or not? What do you think? I’d love to get your thoughts!
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