See the Spot

Chipotle Ad Upstages Some Grammy Performances

Two-Minute Spot Was Chain's First National TV Commercial

By Published on .

Adele was no doubt the star of last night's Grammys, taking home six awards. And although Coldplay performed at the event, the band's live performance was overshadowed by Chipotle's "Back to the Start" ad, which featured Willie Nelson covering Coldplay's "The Scientist."

The two-minute spot is the chain's first national TV ad, but Chipotle released the ad online in late August; it also aired in some 5,700 movie theaters. The ad takes viewers through one farmer's journey, from a huge industrialized farming compound to one with more-sustainable and humane practices. Chipotle encouraged viewers to download the song at iTunes, with proceeds going to the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation.

That Chipotle even aired a TV ad is a bit unusual. The chain has made a concerted effort in recent years to take its advertising in-house, and CMO Mark Crumpacker has said that traditional advertising has become less important for the company.

But reception of the spot, at least on social media, appears to be mostly positive. Some Twitter reactions:

@poniewozik Coldplay-based Chipotle commercial > actual Coldplay performance. #grammys

@mikelafloyd WAIT. THIS WILLIE NELSON THING IS A COMMERCIAL FOR CHIPOTLE?!?! I was getting emotional over burritos?! #grammys

@WilsonTech1 The Chipotle commercial is single-handedly the best part of the#Grammys so far.

@JayDeMarcus This Chipotle commercial is way weird. Wow.

The chain has long had its "food with integrity" stance, but it's clearly benefiting from increased consumer concern over where their food originates and wanting food that they see as fresher than traditional fast food. Last week, the chain said its same-store sales for full-year 2011 were up 11.2%; net income was up 20%.

It's also not the only long-form ad Chipotle released. In October, the chain unveiled "Abandoned," which focuses on the hardships farmers endure as American agriculture becomes increasingly industrialized. Again there's a Willie Nelson connection. The song, "Mama, Don't Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys," performed by Yeah Yeah Yeahs frontwoman Karen O., was written by Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings.

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