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Chipotle: Food for pigs

This week, Chipotle released what may be the best-looking and best-sounding commercial of 2011 so far. Produced for cinema, it’s 2 minutes and 20 seconds of lush, ambitious animation and music.

Watch this one full screen and in high-def if you can:

The video helps launch the Cultivate Foundation, an effort by the Chipotle restaurant chain to encourage sustainable agriculture. The music is Coldplay’s “The Scientist,” sung by Willie Nelson.

The new campaign is supported by positive, uplifting copy, like this graphic from the Chipotle website:

It's not just a burrito. It's a foil-wrapped hand-crafted, local-farm-supporting, food culture changing cylinder of deliciousness.

* * * *

I’m torn by this campaign. I love Willie Nelson, but I don’t care for Coldplay. I like the idea of sustainable agriculture, but I can’t reconcile that idea with the mediocrity of a fast food burrito. I appreciate positive, affirming copy, but I can’t be convinced that buying lunch at Chipotle is healthy for me or for the earth. I like the narrative that glorifies the rancher as he raises a family and makes responsible decisions about his business, but it’s a letdown when his life’s work culminates in him loading a box into a Chipotle truck.

Come to think of it, the new Chipotle commercial is like a Chipotle burrito. It contains a few tasty things, but also some bland, mushy stuff. It’s satisfying as you’re chewing through it, but when it’s done, you’re not sure if what you just consumed was good for you.

* * * *

Chipotle has spent the last few years expanding like mad and branding itself as a place for quality food. I really liked the old “Honest Ingredients” campaign that Chipotle ran in 2006, which was created by TDA Boulder. Personally, I think this cow ad was about as good as restaurant advertising gets:

'She's Not Coming Back' Chipotle ad

But I have a strong stomach for dark humor. Joe Customer doesn’t like to be reminded that his barbacoa burrito was once mooing.

Most patrons in line at Chipotle don’t think about the farm where the animal they’re about to eat was raised—or the slaughterhouse where said animal was killed, bled, and separated. They’re just hungry. An old saying comes to mind: Sell the sizzle, not the steak.

We’ll watch and see if the “Food With Integrity” campaign has enough sizzle to sell burritos.

* * * *

Who created this ad?

Agency: CAA Marketing
Creative Director: Todd Hunter
Art Director: Ricardo Viramontes
Copywriter: Jesse Coulter
Animation: Johnny Kelly.

More credits over at Creativity. You can also read more in this press release.

Who signed off on it?

Steve Ells, founder, chairman and co-CEO of Chipotle Mexican Grill.

(Campaign spotted via Adweek, Mashable, and Renée on Facebook.)

— By Daryl Lang. Filed under Advertising

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