Recently, I wrote about Dove’s viral video and how it related to negotiations.  Based upon request by some of my readers, I thought I would address another video by Chipotle.  Chipotle used the video entitled Scarecrow to powerfully convey messages about its products and competitors through the use of animation.  The video was discussed in Entrepreneur Magazine as to lessons you can learn for marketing.  The lessons, however, are equally important to negotiators.

One pillar of Chipotle’s advertising strategy is to let diners know the food used in its restaurants is responsibly farmed and raised. The Scarecrow video is a much softer approach than showing live animals in unpleasant conditions, but it still drives Chipotle’s message home through clever animation.

The main character mimics how most people would undoubtedly feel walking through meat packing plants and poultry farms without making viewers lose their appetite altogether. That would be a bit counter-productive.

Views: 12.7 million

Why it went viral: The video deftly encompasses the wide range of conversations people across social media channels have — and sometimes argue about — concerning fast food. Chipotle carefully conveys the message that whether you’re concerned about animal cruelty, vegetarianism, GMOs, health issues or local farming, eating at its restaurants can help everyone “cultivate a better world.” That’s something everyone can agree on.

What Negotiators can learn from this video: As a mediator, I find myself in the position of having to tell clients about the harsh reality of their particular situation — why their case is bad; why the damages are what they are; why the witnesses won’t be credible.  Sometimes a great way of giving that news is to distance the message a little through a story.  Just as Chipotle distanced the ugly realities of food processing while conveying the message, stories that are relevant to the issue can convey the same message without making it personal.  Often if you tell a person that they are going to lose, they will shut you out; but if you talk about a story in which a similar person had a difficult adventure, it is much easier to digest.

Second, as noted by Entrepreneur, “People want to find common ground without giving up their point of view. Videos that embrace several angles of the same conversation give viewers a way to talk to each other without giving up ground of their own.”  It is important that you convey your message in a way that allows the other side to retain its perspective.  For example, in a recent case, a party was insistent that she would win the case and get a verdict.  She kept discussing the highest verdict possible as the only possible outcome.  Through the discussions we agreed that other verdicts could occur besides one “homerun” verdict.  Then we considered the other verdicts and their likelihoods.  She eventually realized that even under her attorney’s own perspective, he only considered the homerun as a possiblity in 1/10 cases. There were 9 other possibilities — many of which had higher chances — which helped her realize that the homerun was not the only outcome.  She was able to continue to believe that she might get the homerun while recognizing that other options may be more likely.  Eventually, after she realized the other options, the case settled for a number more in line to the realistic risks and outcome of the case.