You may have thought that the season’s biggest commercials all aired during the Super Bowl, but Mexican food chain Chipotle saved its best for last night’s Grammy Awards. The commercial, which actually debuted on YouTube in late August but hadn’t aired on television until last night, features a farmer raising pigs that get plumped up with pills and shipped off on big trucks, until he has an epiphany and tears down the walls holding the animals. The ad consists of stop motion animation and presents the story in a single, two and a half minute long shot. Willie Nelson’s cover of Coldplay’s “The Scientist” plays throughout. (The spot aired right after Coldplay’s performance.)
The ad, officially called “Back to the Start” has over four million views on YouTube. “The film and the soundtrack were commissioned by Chipotle to emphasize the importance of developing a sustainable food system,” Chipotle’s website states. The response from viewers has been mixed, however. While the chain has publicly promoted sustainable and humane farming practices, it is was once owned in part by McDonald’s, which no doubt is guilty of participating in the factory farming system that the clip eschews.
If you really like the ad, check out the fascinating “making of” below.
Update: Several commenters were quick to point out that Chipotle and McDonald’s parted ways in 2006. Nevertheless, it’s surprising that a food chain once connected to McDonald’s would attempt such a significant re-branding by coming out as anti-factory farming.