See Chipotle's sequel to the 2011 hit 'Back to the Start'

Kacey Musgraves remakes Coldplay's 'Fix You' for ad that seeks to build trust in food and support suppliers

Published On
Nov 16, 2021

Editor's Pick

Marketers that embrace the challenges that their business practices create for suppliers can elicit a powerful response from consumers that builds trust in their authenticity, according to Chris Brandt, chief marketing officer of Chipotle Mexican Grill.

Chipotle demonstrates as much in a compelling new ad reminding consumers that their food choices can have downstream consequences. “A Future Begins,” created by Observatory, debuts on TV on Thanksgiving Day during the Cowboys-Raiders game on CBS.

The 2-minute, 20-second animated spot—a sequel to the award-winning 2011 short film “Back to the Start”—features Grammy-winning singer Kacey Musgraves performing a remake of Coldplay's “Fix You.” The stop-motion animated film follows a farmer who struggles to raise crops and care for his animals amid inclement weather and other hazards of the trade, while a busier neighboring farm is shown getting its soil chemically treated. The farm is eventually put up for sale—before a happier ending arrives.

“We believe that if consumers learn more about where their food comes from, how it’s grown, and its impact on the environment, they will be empowered to make choices that are better for themselves, their community, and the planet,” Brandt said in emailed comments to Ad Age. “Consumers don’t just expect companies to have a point of view, they demand it. CMOs need to embrace the challenging topics and ensure their brands are living up to their values.”

“A Future Begins” shares similar traits with "Back to the Start," which first aired on TV in 2012 after debuting a year earlier as an online video. That spot, like the new one, also featured a Coldplay remake, a Willie Nelson cover of "The Scientist." It came from CAA Marketing. Observatory is led by Jae Goodman, who spun his company out of CAA Marketing.

The ad won a Grand Prix at Cannes in 2012 in branded entertainment. It “signified the arrival of the brand on the national stage as it aimed to make consumers more aware of its suppliers’ sustainable farming methods as well as the brand’s commitment to Food With Integrity,” Brandt said.

Goodman, founder and CEO of Observatory, said the Los Angeles agency set out to tackle the struggles of Chipotle’s suppliers “in a big way,” emphasizing that doing so reinforced the importance of the message.

“I’m not going to suggest that creating ‘A Future Begins’ was easy. Oh wow, it was hard,” Goodman said. “But it wasn’t hard to find a storyline worth bringing to life, because Chipotle is full of real stories like that.”

Chipotle sees the ad as only one part of a mission to support family farms—it is also counting on cooperation from consumers and other brands. It is asking consumers to “round up” their purchases to the nearest dollar, with proceeds from that fundraising to support the National Young Farmers Coalition. Chipotle and the National Young Farmers are advocating for policy changes that would facilitate equitable access to 1 million acres of farmland for young farmers and farmers of color.

The company is also partnering with the apparel brand Carhartt on exclusive product launches, with proceeds from sales of those items also donated to initiatives to support young farmers. The new apparel is available at chiptlegoods.com beginning this month.

These fundraisers come in addition to a $5 million commitment to young farmers that the brand hopes will pave a path to more sustainably produced food.

“Through ‘A Future Begins’ and our work with the National Young Farmers Coalition, we want consumers to understand that the future of farming is in a dire state. Land access remains the biggest barrier for entry for aspiring young farmers and the U.S. agricultural industry continues to lose a massive amount of land each year,” Brandt said. “As a microcosm to this larger narrative, the film demonstrates how a commitment to real food can change the entire trajectory of a farming family. With the son in the film returning to his family farm to institute sustainable farming practices, he ensures real food will be provided for his community and the family business will remain profitable for years to come.”