While watching the Grammy Awards last night, it was an ad during the commercials that had me looking up from my take-out dinner (well, Katy Perry's blue hair and the Beach Boys' performance did too). Chipotle's 2:30-minute commercial was quietly released back in August and has aired in quite a few movie theaters since then, but exploded in visibility after last night.
Set to a poignant Willie Nelson cover of Coldplay's The Scientist, the scene moves from pigs to factories to pink meat that spits out of machines, until the fences flip open into more idyllic pastures where frolicking animals roam free. A farmer contemplates his two options, and in the last shot, happily loads his meat onto a Chipotle truck.
The obvious takeaway: you don't want to eat the hormone-laden, easily-shippable pork cubes. Through adorable farm animal animations, the Chipotle ad attacks big industrial food production and promotes a sustainable farming model through the story of this farmer who goes "back to the start" (see what they did there?).
Chipotle's use of organic, locally sourced ingredients has been lauded as an example for mega fast-food corporations. If a big burrito chain can figure out a way to source from local farmers, can't other chains work to integrate some of the same philosophies? Last summer Chipotle even launched the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation to support organizations and people working to improve individual family farms.
It's easy to be a fan of Chipotle. Sure it's not authentic Mexican food, but what they do serve actually tastes like it came from a real kitchen not a factory in whoknowswhereville. That they've managed to do this while still maintaining a competitive price point and delivering on a promise of integrity with ethical production practices is nothing short of impressive. Also, they got Willie to do this sweet cover.