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Chipotle Blurs Lines with a Satirical Series about Industrial Farming

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During the Super Bowl on Sunday, advertisers will deploy talking animals and A-list endorsers, anything to reach the 100 million Americans expected to be watching.

But Chipotle Mexican Grill, the fast-growing restaurant chain, is playing a different advertising game. Building on its unconventional marketing tactics, Chipotle next month will release "Farmed and Dangerous," a four-part comedy series on the TV-streaming service Hulu that takes a satirical look at industrial-scale farming.

You'll have to look hard to find Chipotle's connection to the series. There are no scenes at Chipotle restaurants or impromptu testimonials to its tacos or quesadillas. (It is no accident, though, that the show's young hero is named Chip.)

Rather, "Farmed and Dangerous," billed as a "Chipotle original series," hopes to promote the company's concerns about sustainable agriculture and the humane treatment of animals used for meat. This stealth marketing strategy, Chipotle executives say, is not about "product integration," but "values integration."    

Starring the actor Ray Wise, the series is a full-throated attack on "industrial agriculture," complete with a Dr. Strangelove-like scientist inventing eight-winged chickens and cash bribes being delivered in gift boxes.

" 'Farmed and Dangerous' is meant to strike large emotional chords - it's not about selling burritos," said Daniel Rosenberg, a former Hollywood executive whose New York-based company, Piro, produced the series with Chipotle.

A restaurant chain's production of a comedy series appearing on a streaming-video service highlights several recent media industry trends, particularly the blurring between advertising and entertainment or news. Like "native advertising," which involves news outlets running articles paid for by corporations to appear alongside traditional reporting, "Farmed and Dangerous" will live on Hulu next to conventional TV comedies.       


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