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.”


About the author

Alissa is a design writer for publications like Fast Company, GOOD and Dwell who can most often be found in Los Angeles. She likes to walk, ride the bus, and eat gelato.