You might think it strange for a restaurant chain to sponsor a movie like Food, Inc.—a decidedly unappetizing look at agribusiness and factory farms. However, the partnership is a natural for burrito-maker Chipotle, which actively promotes a philosophy of Food With Integrity. The company, in conjunction with the film’s distributor, is sponsoring a series of free film screenings around the U.S. and has promoted the movie in its communications.
Unfortunately the sponsorship has not been so well-received by activists seeking higher pay for farm workers employed by Chipotle’s Florida tomato suppliers. Activists have been showing up at screenings chiding Chipotle and handing out copies of a letter criticizing the chain. The letter is signed by none other than the film’s director and co-producer (who were not involved in securing the sponsorship).
As I noted in my last post, because sponsorship is so much more visible than all other media, it is highly vulnerable to attack. Scottish politicians are having a field day tying the tragic closing of the Johnnie Walker bottling plant in Kilmarnock with the brand’s sponsorship of Formula One’s McLaren Mercedes team. The logic: F1 has fueled Johnnie Walker’s growth globally, rendering its home market insignificant and enabling Diageo to close the plant—along with a Glasgow distillery.
On the one hand U.S. officials say sponsorship is a waste of money and should be off-limits to recipients of TARP funds, while across the pond officials are asserting that sponsorship is so successful brands can ignore current customers in local markets and instead focus entirely on new markets abroad.
"£15 million of sponsorship sees the Johnnie Walker brand go from its origins in Kilmarnock to be drunk around the world," said Kilmarnock MSP Willie Coffey. On the eve of the German Grand Prix, he urged motorsports fans to sign an online petition to save the Johnnie Walker plant. “This weekend as Johnnie Walker is advertised to the world, it's the turn of Formula One fans to show their support." more