Constructive Dialogue Follows Conflict: Center for Land-Based Learning Has Discussion with Chipotle

Constructive Dialogue Follows Conflict: Center for Land-Based Learning Has Discussion with Chipotle

February 25, 2014


By Laurie Greene, Associate Editor


Last Friday, Craig McNamara, Founder, and Mary Kimball, Executive Director, both of Center for Land-Based Learning, had a good conversation with Chris Arnold, Communications Director and Official Spokesman at Chipotle Mexican Grill, after cancelling a fundraiser with the restaurant chain due to the eatery’s launch of a miniseries that fosters “animosity toward production agriculture”.

Kimball said that Arnold has been the lead on all of the company’s marketing campaigns for a very long time, 15 years or so. Kimball commented, “We spent the majority of the time discussing our perspectives.” She conveyed that from Arnold’s perspective, the 4-part HULU Series provided the ability to reach millions more people, to achieve what he called ‘a longer shelf life of a campaign’, and to benefit from the kind of free PR that they have already received just in the form of so much talk, discussion and articles, which have already reached over $10 million in value.

“He said that there was no intention to pit large Ag against small Ag,” said Kimball, “or to vilify it in any way. In his mind, because it is such a satire, he doesn't see how anyone would think that it was real.”

“We discussed the importance of education,” Kimball continued, “and, in general, the work that Land-Based Learning does to inform eaters. We talked a great deal about the perspective of our board, as well as what we are hearing from other agriculture folks - large, small, and everything in between.”

Kimball concluded, “There is no way to influence the current campaign, that was clear. We did ask if we (or other farm groups) could be a part of future marketing campaigns from the standpoint of giving feedback. He didn't rule it out but certainly didn't agree to it.”

“We also asked if he was ever in Northern California,” she said, “would he think about coming to the Farm on Putah Creek and continue the conversation. He was very interested in that option - as he will be in Monterey in May, and then back in the Bay Area in June.”

Kimball said the upshot is, “We will stay connected to him and absolutely continue to urge for this meeting.”