Chipotle Advertising: Iconic Brand Goes Back to the Start

Guest blogger Ola Gillfelt, a graphic designer/art director, gives four broccoli sandwiches to the Chipotle two-minute ad, “Back to the Start,” Chipotle’s animated piece which won the Grand Prix Award at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity this year.



“It was timeless with heart impact and gut impact,” said the chairman of the 23-strong jury, Khai Meng Tham. “The best winners at Cannes always have a message, I think, and factory farming is such a big issue everywhere in the world. For a fast food company to do this will, we hope, change the industry, change the world.”

“The jury just felt really strongly. Chipotle was so clearly the one everyone liked. Not every piece of film needs a social message in it. It is just such a perfect little circle of an ad.” The spot was the restaurant chain’s first national advertisement in the company’s 18-year history and several millions have seen it on YouTube.

My first reaction to this was the same as most people; you take it to heart. The animation is cute, well-made and very striking it its simplicity/complexity with a great cover by Willie Nelson. And of course the message is of a very positive nature. “Delicious, affordable food can be produced without exploiting the farmers, the animals or the environment,” declares Chipotle chairman Steve Ells.

Chipotle_Ad image

But does this ad educate the public about industrialized animal production and does that really change Average Joe´s mind? And how will it change the price tag on the meat? It’s great that Chipotle goes this way to support the farmers to do this, the right way for the world, but if not the rest of the food industry follow Chipotle to create a more sustainable and humane place for us to eat, nothing is won in the end. It comes down to supply and demand. The price would follow that. And it takes a big company and their muscles to go against the stream to change the existing structure.

At the same time I get this scratching feeling in the back of my mind when a fast-food company does something like this, like they have an ulterior motive. So, if Chipotle changes their supply chain into a sustainable and humane practice, what does that add in the end when the product still ends up as a more or less unhealthy fast food? As far as I can see, Chipotle serves food that wouldn’t rank as very healthy for the consumer, quite a conflict for the consumer. “Back to the Start” raises many questions, despite the fact that the spot is well-made and has a foundation in something positive.


  1. Beth Berens

    Wow, good for you Mandi, for seeing another side of a positive message.*thumbs up* I saw this ad before and I loved it. I already loved Chipotle for their support and generosity to community events, even as small as my international advertising club when I was at State. ( They donated 20 burritos, 20 bags of chips, salsa, sour cream and guacamole, even when I insisted they give us only 10 burritos, cut in half, for a 20-person event. It was crazy and wonderful!)

    I don’t personally think they have a hidden scheme. I think the founders of Chipotle wanted ‘fast food’ with fresh ingredients. True, it’s not the healthiest food for you, in terms of high-calorie or -fat content and portion sizes, but I don’t think that’s their goal, necessarily. Just fresh, natural ingredients, no preservatives or additives.

    Your question about whether this business model will last or spread to other fast food chains is a good one… Well, Wendy’s is doing ‘fresh’ too, right? Actually, what’s ‘fresh’ anyway? I think their version of fresh is ‘never-frozen.’ I don’t know what makes up their burgers or fries though…

    I’d love to eat at Chipotle more, except that there’re no Chipotle’s around Novi!

    • brainstormingbroccolisandwiches

      Beth, I actually agree with you. I love Chipotle, but was glad to get another perspective from my guest blogger Ola Gilfelt. And you’re right, we’ll see what happens with the fast food industry. I think it IS heading for a better, healthier goal 🙂

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