After launching its very own unbranded TV series, Farmed and Dangerous, on Hulu in 2014, Chipotle is challenging industry convention once again with RAD Lands, the restaurant chain’s first-ever kids series.
Created in partnership with CAA Marketing and The Magic Store (Yo Gabba Gabba!), the unbranded, nutrition-based series for seven- to 10-year-olds aims to educate young kids and their parents about where fresh food comes from and how it is prepared. The six x 22-minute first season of RAD Lands is available exclusively on iTunes in North America for US$4.99, and the IP will launch in schools later this spring in partnership with Discovery Education. Blending animation, music and live action, the series follows the intergalactic adventures of a rebel group that embarks on a mission to save the galaxy’s plants and animals.
Kidscreen spoke with Chipotle rep Quinn Kelsey about cultivating Lands, and the challenges that come with producing unbranded content for kids.
What drove Chipotle’s decision to launch RAD Lands now?
We’ve had this project in the works for a couple of years, and right now we’re focusing on a return to how Chipotle has traditionally marketed and communicated with its audience. Chipotle’s use of unbranded content has been a proven and impactful way to spark curiosity or conversation about food and issues in food. With RAD Lands, the aim was to start a conversation around food and better eating among families. The series does not mention Chipotle by name or likeness, therefore allowing the focus to be on engaging, fun stories that educate families on where their food comes from.
Why did Lands bow on iTunes first?
When we were developing the program, we wanted it to be distribution-agnostic. But we found iTunes to be an excellent partner for this series. It’s a great destination for compelling, longer-form content, which made it ideal for this.
Chipotle doesn’t directly advertise to kids, so beyond iTunes and school distribution, how will Lands grow?
RAD Lands as a series is a one-off opportunity to educate, entertain and inform children and families about where their food comes from. Beyond the initial launch with iTunes and Discovery Education, we don’t have any other near-term distribution plans, though we certainly may make it available through other channels at some point. We were really pleased with the show, and may well explore additional distribution modes down the road.
Any there any plans to sell the series to linear broadcasters or digital platforms like Hulu, Netflix and Amazon?
Not at this time.
Will more indie producers go the unbranded content route with big brands?
I can’t speak for the indie producer group. For us, RAD Lands continues Chipotle’s alignment of entertainment-first content that engages viewers while sharing information about food in a digestible and entertaining format.
We identified amazing partners in The Magic Store team, and we ensured they had the creative freedom needed to make a truly engaging series. At the same time, RAD Lands presents the same values-driven, unbranded conversation about food that Chipotle has made successful with previous long-form programming, like Hulu’s Farmed and Dangerous. It’s possible that other independent producers will go in this direction, but it’s probably ultimately going to be driven by the nature of stories to tell.
What’s the biggest challenge for a big food brand in creating unbranded content for kids?
Creating this series for children and their families required us to learn more about the medium (episodes are only 22 minutes), and what entertains and educates kids and parents. We were fortunate to have excellent partners in Scott Schultz and The Magic Store team, who brought their expertise in developing shows for families to watch together. We wanted to use a variety of formats to engage and teach without preaching. The culinary and musical talent that appear in RAD Lands—including Wayne Coyne, Biz Markie, Portugal. The Man, Amanda Freitag, Michael Voltaggio and Duff Gordon—were also selected because of their appeal to both parents and kids, so viewing together can be fun.
What’s next for the IP?
While RAD Lands is a one-time series, it is an initiative that will live on in classrooms for several years, thanks to our partnership with Discovery Education, which will enable educators to take advantage of online lesson plans this year and next. Episodes will be paired with lessons and activities specifically for elementary students. This partnership gives both teachers and parents compelling reasons to educate children on key health and science content, including the benefits of eating fresh food, the importance of caring for our environment, and how to create tasty snacks.