This Grammys Ad Has Everyone Talking

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.

As intense as the ad is, apparently more people who watched the Grammys are just wondering who Bon Iver and Paul McCartney are.

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.


  1. You really should do the tiniest bit of research. From wikipedia: “In October 2006, McDonald’s fully divested from Chipotle.”

  2. I believe that McDonald’s had sold off all of their ownership in Chipotle around 2006 or so.

  3. “From 1998 to 2006, McDonald’s Corporation owned a majority interest in Chipotle, from which it fully divested in 2006.[12]”

    From Wikipedia. Thought hipsters were supposed to be good at the internet?

  4. mcdonald’s hasn’t owned a part since 2006.

  5. Do your research next time…..McDonald’s hasn’t owned any part of Chipotle since 2006.

  6. adam Berkowitz says:

    If I may, at the risk of being “Johnny corporate defender”, I’m fairly certain that McDonald’s divested entirely from Chiptotle in the mid 2000s.

  7. They’re no longer owned by McDonalds. They sold their shares years ago.

  8. They aren’t partially owned by McDonald’s any longer:

    “From 1998 to 2006, McDonald’s Corporation owned a majority interest in Chipotle, from which it fully divested in 2006.”

  9. i won’t believe it until at least ten more people say the same thing.

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