Last week, I promised a blog post on Chipotle’s latest announcement that the chain will phase GMO foods out of its menu. By now, it’s old news. They made the announcement early last week and most media outlets have covered the story.
Most of the time, I would try to have a post up as soon as possible, dissecting the decision and what it means for farmers and agriculture. But this time, I held off because, honestly, I wanted to know what everyone was going to say about it.
The restaurant chain has consistently been in the news in the last few years, both for its marketing campaigns and the agriculture community’s response to those campaigns, and most of the time, the media has backed Chipotle’s plays whole-heartedly. But not this time.
This time, the response was mixed at best. And that’s what’s interesting.
What’s more interesting is some of the most prominent outlets reporting on Chipotle’s announcement aren’t exactly taking Chipotle’s announcement hook, line and sinker. Time, National Geographic, Slate, NPR, Chicago Tribune, New York Magazine, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and more dismissed the announcement as a marketing ploy — and not a particularly good one at that.
That’s an about-face when it comes to the way Chipotle stories have been reported previously. So what’s the deal? Have consumers and the media decided that Chipotle’s marketing team is no longer speaking the gospel truth? Or is something else happening? Are consumers and media starting to accept GMO foods as safe and economical?
I’m not sure if it’s one or the other. In fact, it’s probably more that people are starting to see Chipotle’s marketing as just that: marketing. It’s not a company with a heart, trying to do the right thing. It’s just a company like any other company, trying to sell a product.
Consumers — and the media — are starting to look at Chipotle’s anti-agriculture marketing through critical eyes. And that’s a good thing.