Chipotle’s Confusing Ad about Factory Farming

by Rachel Baker on September 19, 2013

Chipotle has a new (intentionally?) confusing ad; and David Sirota, nationally syndicated newspaper columnist, magazine journalist and the best-selling author of the books Hostile Takeover, The Uprising and Back to Our Future, wrote about it on Salon.

Did Chipotle mean its ad to be such an explicitly pro-vegetarian message, only to see that message ignored by media outlets and much of its audience? Or did company executives design the ad with a two-pronged calculation? Were they calculating that: 1) the controversial and explicit vegetarian message would be ignored, but 2) that the audience would nonetheless implicitly ascribe the kill-free merits of vegetarianism to the burrito vendor’s products? Put another way, in a self-serving bit of trickery, were they actually trying to subtly conflate opposition to factory farming with full-on opposition to eating meat, even though those two things are fundamentally different?

It is impossible to know, but signs point to the latter. After all, while Chipotle has made encouraging moves to put more vegetarian and vegan fare on its menu, the company has no announced plans to reduce the meat fare at its restaurants. Additionally, the company’s pinto bean controversy in 2011 suggests the company is interested in seeming vegetarian without actually being vegetarian. In that episode, Chipotle was humiliated for its refusal to identify the seemingly vegetarian beans on its in-store menus as not vegetarian at all.

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