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Chipotle's new animated ad slams rival fast food chains

Chipotle Mexican Grill (NYSE: CMG) today released “A Love Story,” an original, animated short film that follows the story of two young entrepreneurs, Ivan and Evie, and the escalating rivalry that leads them to build competing fast food empires.
Source: Chipotle

Chipotle Mexican Grill emerged from the shadow of a string of high-profile foodborne illness outbreaks on Wednesday with a brand new advertisement that took aim at rival fast food chains.

In an effort to get back to its roots, the company released a new short film showcasing its commitment to using quality, fresh ingredients and keeping a simple menu rather than resorting to slick deals and gimmicks.

This isn't Chipotle's first foray into animated film production that criticizes restaurant industry practices. The company has released two other short films: "The Scarecrow" in 2013 and "Back to the Start" in 2011. Both of those short films depict big-scale factories mistreating animals and producing low-quality products.

The latest short is a dig at rival fast-food chains like McDonald's and Burger King, which, like many in the industry, have doubled-down on quirky limited-time offers.

In the new four-minute video, two young children operating rival lemonade and orange juice stands compete for foot traffic and revenue. Their competition soon gets out of hand.

"'A Love Story' illustrates how competition propelled these two once-simple concepts to become something neither of their founders envisioned — reliant on limited-time offers, vast menus and heavily processed food," Mark Shambura, director of brand marketing at Chipotle, said in a statement.

The pair realize that they have lost their way and close down their operations to open a taco stand that only uses fresh ingredients.

The short film is the company's first major ad campaign since it dealt with a string of high-profile E. coli outbreaks last year. And it comes just days after the company's chief creative and development officer, Mark Crumpacker, was arrested on seven counts of possession of a controlled substance. Chipotle placed the executive on administrative leave following the arrest.

Crumpacker is credited with establishing the company's fresh food focus in its advertising and guiding Chipotle away from marketing its new food safety protocols.

The company, under Crumpacker's guidence, has spent millions of dollars attempting to win back customers with a variety of marketing and promotions such as coupons for free burritos and a summertime loyalty program.

Chipotle is hoping to gain a foothold in the market after first-quarter same-store sales plunged nearly 30 percent, contributing to a loss for that quarter — the first in its history.