Could a game app make you hungry for fresh food? Our favorite burrito place is tempting us with more than green cilantro rice and overstuffed burritos. Chipotle Mexican Grill has created a new game app and video that they're hoping will lure us into eating more "real" food and steer us away from sad, factory-made, highly processed junk. So yeah, let your thumbs and smartphone lead the way to health! And happiness! And deliciousness! And does this even make sense to you?!?
I don't know ... I like the idea in theory. But I just downloaded the game and tried playing it, and I'm not convinced. Maybe I need to be more of a gamer/lover, not a fighter. Chipotle, can you please explain to me how this game-belly connection is supposed to work?
The company's chief marketing officer Mark Crumpacker says,
We created 'The Scarecrow' game and film as an entertaining and engaging way to help people better understand the difference between processed food and the real thing. In many ways, 'The Scarecrow' represents what we aspire to accomplish through our vision of Food With Integrity.
The game begins with this heart-squeezy video, which I loved. You can see it below. It's like something from a Tim Burton world, slightly less dark and eccentric, set to the tune of "Pure Imagination" from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. A scarecrow is sad to find himself living in a world of factory-produced food, with chickens pumped up with growth drugs and cows boxed into crates. But then! He finds himself on a farm with actual peppers growing on live plants. He plucks the pepper and starts cooking up some life-affirming fresh food. (You know, just like what they aspire to serve at Chipotle.) Cue happy music! Hope for good food springs eternal!
As someone who actually grew peppers in her garden and cooks fresh food, I say hooray to this vision of the world. They could have stopped with the video -- but they know that to reach the kids nowadays you have to gameify your message.
When you get to the game (for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch), it's about helping the scarecrow move boxes of food in a factory. Completing that level lets you unlock new levels to play AND earns you discounts for Chipotle. You move from the dystopic factory food world to the brighter fresh food world -- I think that's the idea, anyway. I never made it past the first level because I suck at gaming and don't have the patience to muscle through it. Also, I have all these blog posts to write today, so ...
I can see how the app gets people to make "real food" choices, that is, as long as they happen at Chipotle. And it's probably almost as addictive as Fruit Ninja (ahem, not that I'd know). But I don't know, I'm not convinced the game itself actually educates anyone about how food is made. Then again, what the game and video do well is cultivate an emotional connection with how food is made. And really, that's probably even more effective than dumping a load of information on us. I'll have to see how my game-loving son responds to it.
Do you think Chipotle's game app could change the way people eat?
Image via Chipotle/YouTube