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How Chipotle Made This Amazing Stop Motion Film (And Made Us Cry)

The ad is impressive enough — and a real tearjerker! — but designer Johnny Kelly now reveals how he did it.

Even the most anti-fast foodies will admit that Mexi-chain Chipotle’s been making strides in supporting responsible food production, using local purveyors, and championing a new sustainable store design. A campaign to reintroduce itself to its eaters features a gorgeous new stop-motion ad by London-based Johnny Kelly that shows how Chipotle eschews the icky practices of factory farming. Michael Pollan would surely approve.

Featuring a Willie Nelson cover of the Coldplay song "The Scientist," the ad opens on an idyllic pastoral scene, where a farmer cares for his family alongside pigs and cows. As business grows, his practices industrialize, and as the camera pans right, it follows an assembly line where pigs pass by vats of chemicals, are unnaturally fattened and finally processed into tiny pink cubes (not so much of a metaphor). As the trucks of pork squares roar over a desolate landscape, the farmer realizes the error of his ways and regains control of his farm, going — sing it Willie — "back to the start."

The ad itself is a cinematic marvel — I admit, I teared up! — but now there’s an even more impressive component. Kelly has released a behind-the-scenes video shot by Max Halstead showing how he and the team at Clapham Road Studios did it.

This stop-motion video of a stop-motion video gives incredible insight into Kelly’s process. The entire piece was shot practically, on a table top which is cleared off halfway through the video to make way for building the factory (that says a lot right there). Even more amazing is the level of improvisation. Looking at production stills you can see how everything is built, painted, and styled by hand, and many pieces are made on the fly.

Originally trained as a graphic designer, Kelly is an impressive creative force, whose work for clients ranging from YouTube to Vitra is worth checking out as well. And just for fun? Compare this with the making-of videos from OK Go’s genre-redefining "This Too Shall Pass."

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  • Vince

    Let pigs roam free? You’ve got to be kidding! Ever seen anyone attacked by a wild pig? Not a pretty sight.

  • Marcia S Davis

    Great post, Alissa! Thanks for sharing....I'm going to pass the message on via my blog, too. Hope you are doing well and keeping up on your gelato expeditions!

  • Jen

    I love this video. I really do. But in this day and age, the best and fastest way to reduce our carbon footprint and antibiotics use is to consider not eating the little piggy at all. I know…shocking! There is just no need for it though. You can produce much better and more food using a plant based diet. "Happy" piggies and not-happy piggies are still murdered in the end. 

  • Keith Price

    To grr arrggh:  I believe your referring to the global adoption of the green revolution, in which Norman Borlaug made in essence a “super wheat” seed, and the subsequent industrial farming techniques were created.  While it offered high yields initially, it has dwindled the worlds variety of foods and made the use of pesticides necessary.  It also has also made our food supply especially susceptible to disease, and can lead to massive crop failures, thereby making us MORE likely to experience famine in developing nations.  Read http://ngm.nationalgeographic....
    for a well written, easy to grasp article on the reality of industrialized food production.

    Oh and way to throw out a statistic without providing a source, or giving us your basis on believing your expertise.  

    Oh and why get irate about a commercial promoting a better life for animals and farmers?

  • grr arrggh

    I have no idea what sort of farming Chipotle's suppliers do (and I'm pretty sure this cleverly made video romanticizes it) but it is not really worth arguing about. Were it not for factory farming techniques, most of the posters here would not be alive. There are 7 billion people living on this planet that, without the benefit of modern agricultural technologies, would be unable to support much more than a tenth of that. 

  • Cdmaury

    The real probklem is that you believe in that carbon = bad  idea... what planet are you on? Can't be Earth, for sure.

  • Shan Willoughby

    Whatever you think about Chipotle, one has to admit this video was pure genius and true enough - a tear jerker! For us locavores and whole food acitivists, this hits home. Support your local farms and those who work the land and care for their animals - get to a Farmer's Market ASAP!

  • Pacman49999

    Chipotle is horrible unless you like cold burritos , EVERY time i eat there or used to eat there it was like eating something out of the refrigarator. At least thats the Nor Cal standard . There are so many better places to eat Mexican food .

  • Leban Hyde

    I'm a fan of Chipotle. You can feel good about the food you eat there. I should know, I used to cook there.

    If it's all a lie, then they equally lie to their employees.

    Great vid. Kudos to Willie for the cover and Coldplay for the song.


  • Anon

    Yeah its ok, but do I believe it? Not really... and Willie Nelson kills this song. Not in a good way. RIP.