Chipotle prides itself on providing high-quality ‘fast-food’ meals sourced from ethical and sustainable raw ingredients. We partnered with CAA and the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation to create Back to the Start, a hand-crafted animation to highlight both the issue and solution of sustainable farming.

Their Challenge

Fast-food chains are synonymous with poor quality ingredients, so how do you educate your customers on an alternate approach in a believable and engaging way that doesn’t ring hollow to today’s media-savvy audiences?

Our Approach

Working directly with Chipotle founder Steve Ells allowed us to understand his passion and commitment to the issue enabling us to create an authentic story with real emotional and social impact.

Johnny Kelly, the director, pushed the story further, choosing stop-motion animation (positioning each model, by hand, frame by frame) to deliberately mirror the effort and individual care that the farmers put into their food.

Willy Nelson, whose voice carries the same emotion and commitment to that way of life, added the finishing touch.

Filmed in one sweeping take, the film was painstakingly animated over four weeks on one large all-encompassing model background.

Chipotle Character Nexus Johnny Kelly Close-Up

Chipotle Nexus Making Of Johnny Kelly

Chipotle Character Nexus Johnny Kelly Close-Up

The Impact

Not only has the animation won many awards, been watched by tens of millions and put the Chipotle brand firmly on the map, we are most proud of the way that today’s audiences welcomed and believed in their passion and commitment to providing the best possible food.

The public’s emotional connection to the film led to a positive response worldwide. It also initiated an important debate, resulting in global restaurant chains following Chipotle’s example and changing farming policies.

Cannes Lions Award Nexus

2 x Cannes Lions Grand Prix

Views when screened during the Grammys

Viral views before official release

View the project