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Chipotle is serving up more than burritos. In an unconventional advertising scheme, the chain is releasing a four-part comedy series on Hulu next month.
The series titled Farmed and Dangerous promises to be a satirical take on factory-farms, a topic that doesn’t immediately seem to lend itself to humor. However, with romance, over-the-top villainy and exploding cows, Chipotle aims for dark comedy packed into four 30-minute episodes.
Chipotle will not plant direct references to the burrito chain in Farmed and Dangerous, according to The New York Times. Instead, the focus is on sustainable farming, allowing viewers to watch the videos without feeling they are directly being sold a product.
Farmed and Dangerous represents an ambitious extension of previous Chipotle marketing that prioritized promoting sustainability over directly advertising for the burrito chain. In 2013, the chain released a short animated film featuring Fiona Apple singing a cover of “Pure Imagination” from Willy Wonka & The Chocolate Factory. The film, which follows a scarecrow who withdraws from the factory farming system, only featured Chipotle's name and logo in the closing seconds.
By spending on compelling advertising that places the premium on sustainable farming, Chipotle has managed to make their brand synonymous with environmentalism, even when the industry lacks firm definitions of what constitutes “responsibly raised” or “sustainable” meat.
Each episode of Farmed and Dangerous cost Chipotle around $250,000, according to the Times. The show, which stars television veteran Ray Wise, will be organized identically to conventional television shows, including commercial breaks.
The series will appear on Hulu alongside more typical comedy shows, with the majority of Hulu’s offerings reaped from network television. The trend of “native advertising,” where brands can create content that runs alongside article by news organizations, has been increasingly accepted in the media world. However, “Farmed and Dangerous” represents the most ambitious venture of a brand into scripted television.
Will people tune in for a comedy series produced by a burrito chain? With Chipotle’s two short films totaling 20 million views on YouTube, the future of television may be – in part – in the hands of brands.
Related: Chipotle's Brilliant Branding Move