Denver-Based Chipotle Airs First National Commercial

February 10, 2012

Denver-based burrito behemoth Chipotle, is airing its first national commercial during this year’s Grammy Awards. Chipotle has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau of Denver/Boulder, but is not an accredited business. The fast casual restaurant, that doesn’t employ an advertising agency, will screen Back to the Start during music’s biggest night, Sunday, February 12, 2012. Back to the Start is a two minute stop-motion animation feature that showcases a farmer who inadvertently constructs a factory farm before seeing the error of his ways. The farmer redeems himself by making some waving motions with his hands, and pulling a few strategically placed levers. These frenetic motions turn his franken-farm into a free-range utopia, just as his son comes of age, and presumably decides to go into the family business.

Chipotle famously contracts with Niman Ranch, and this commercial shows the company’s emphasis on sustainably-produced, hormone-free meat. The message rings clear, but what is most impressive about this advertisement is the production value. A haunting Coldplay cover deftly executed by Willie Nelson hums in the background. The movement of the puppets seems fluid and the short’s main character displays some very basic emotions - a large achievement in both stop-motion-animation and puppetry.

Chipotle posted a making of the video on its website where the artists who crafted this short film explicate the process. The making of this video is a much watch.

Chipotle has already garnered extensive praise for this video. The New York Times reported that as of Thursday, Back to the Start had been viewed more than 4,000,000 times on YouTube, and had been shown in over 10,000 movie theaters. According to Zeta Interactive, this commercial is one of only two commercials that didn’t air on the Super Bowl to make a top ten list for advertisements that generated the most buzz on the internet in 2011.

And for good reason; the message of the two-minute video merges seamlessly with the unparalleled production value of the advertisement. In this case, it’s obvious that the success of Back to the Start is a direct result of hard, honest work by a driven in-house marketing team with the resources to contract creative genius.

And if Chipotle wasn’t generating enough press from this commercial; this morning, The Atlantic exposed the chain’s great BBQ secret. It turns out the tacqueria cooks its famous barbacoa and carnitas using a sous-vide method.

Slow cooked meat in a fast casual concept with over 1000 locations? As always, Denver proves to be rivaled by no city when it comes to business innovation. Tune in to Sunday’s Grammy Awards to see the masterfully honed advertisement on television.