The Mentalist

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO COMMUNICATE ABOUT COMMODITY CHAIN?

“How much is it? Is it trendy? Is it very caloric?” are now “old-school” questions. Consumers – especially Millenials – are caring about “where does a product come from? Is it local? How was it processed? “. Some brands understood it well and strive to create campaigns living up consumers’ expectations – more or less (clumsily) creatively.

Although sustainability is embedded in their strategy, the claim over the products sold of some organisations is not made to target traditional green consumers – often caricatured as hippies – but simply for people who care about what they consume and their impact on their direct environment.

Today’s consumers are even more concerned about what they are eating… Even more when they enter a fast food chain. And thus, being transparent about how products and food are made, explaining the effects an organisation has on its commodity chain, have become critical issues for brand strategy.

McDonald’s: From clumsiness to listener?

In 2010 with its advertisement “Where does breakfast come from?” McDonald’s tried to illustrate through a tale, where the products served in their restaurant are coming from: a beautiful farm, which products are – apparently – delivered every morning and cooked upon arrival by a “breakfast wizard”. Such spot highlighted two very important issues: First, young people are questioning products origins; Second, nobody really knows where products are coming from. Even the spot does not say much. Since then, the famous fast food chain seems to listen more to its consumers. Francesca DeBiase, McDonald’s’ Vice President for strategic sourcing and worldwide supply chain management, said in The Guardian that “[consumers] want to know where their food comes from… We need to understand what consumers mean and talk to them in the same language.” Although consumers do not use the key word “sustainability”, the issues underneath actually matter. What is being consumed contribute to the development of local farmers or products are cultivated without harmful chemicals are information that more and more consumers are willing to know and understand.

Where Does Breakfast Come From? from DBL DRAGON on Vimeo.

Chipotle: the commodity chain, main actor of its campaigns

Since its first campaign, the famous Mexican grill has been using its commodity chain to talk about its business model. After “Back to the Start” and “The Scarecrow”- campaigns that mainly denounced food production practices – Chipotle has pushed its originality and creativity even further by launching a mini web series: “Farmed and Dangerous”. Farmed and Dangerous appears to be mixing a Dallas plot, with some touch of humour/sarcasm taken from The Mentalist or NCIS, and a classical love story in the background between “impossible” lovers… A typical US series! The packaging is quasi perfect: the series website is available, where information related to the characters is presented. Even a fictitious corporate website of Animoil has been created. Through this campaign, Chipotle not only denounces the current food production system – like in the past – but also points out communication tricks used on the food market; in other words greenwashing practices.

1. “These people are dying from eating, not starving. That’s progress”, such punch line from the trailer depicts you the vision of the system as seen by Buck Marshall, the main face of the Industrial Food Image Bureau (I.F.I.B), a PR agency that works on the image of food companies, using greenwashing tricks. The mission of the I.F.I.B is “to protect our freedom. Freedom to choose what we wanna read no matter what the studies prove.”

2. Animoil is the perfect incarnation of a polluting company, concerned by its… higher profits. The fictitious Animoil corporate website is designed in such a way that it appears to be real. There is even a rubric dedicated to the Corporate Responsibility of the company; the four tenets mocking openly greenwashing wording tricks.

Animoil

3. Chip Randolph is the heroic activist who struggles in the system and fights for better and more sustainable farming practices. The nice-handsome guy.

Even if the system is not perfect, consumers will tend to trust a brand, which is honest about how it works, the challenges encountered, presenting all the actors of a system, and the impacts on each actor when a change is made; an organisation that is transparent about its commodity chain.