Last week, Chipotle released an affecting animated ad about their commitment to righting the wrongs of Big Agriculture. “The Scarecrow” was a high-minded, high-budget affair that even included a video game about the adventures of its titular character, a proxy for Chipotle itself in the context of the ad. By the end of the week, it had racked up millions of YouTube hits and early speculation about Cannes awards.
Gentlemen, start your backlash!
While an essay in Salon recently decried the “vegetarian bait-and-switch” of Chipotle’s ad–wherein a scarecrow witnesses the horrors of factory farming and starts selling cruelty-free wares–Funny or Die got their point across with a parody. Adopting a style similar to the Honest Trailers on YouTube, the video also includes a parody version of Fiona Apple’s heartbreaking cover of “Pure Imagination” from “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory”, which scored Chipotle’s original ad.
While the original ad plucked at viewer’s heartstrings, Funny or Die’s version helpfully points out how doing so may have been manipulative and hypocritical. “Look at that sad face and feel it,” a caption reads as the saddest anthropomorphic scarecrow you’ve ever seen appears. By the time the scarecrow protagonist begins making what look like burritos and Funny or Die reminds us of the tenuousness of the company’s “no Genetically Modified Organisms” promise, the backing song begins to take on a second meaning and suggest that Chipotle’s claims are, themselves, the product of pure imagination.