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Chipotle’s Super Bowl Ad Puts the Spotlight On Farmers

If you’re one of those casual NFL fans who tune into the Super Bowl as much for the commercials as the game itself, you’re in for a surprise this year. Traditional advertisers like Budweiser, Coca Cola, and Pepsi are taking a pass in 2021 to allocate their dollars elsewhere in the coronavirus economy. Filling in the gap will be a number of new advertisers – including Chipotle Mexican Grill, the fast-casual burrito chain that will debut its first Super Bowl ad as a way to spotlight the farmers who supply its ingredients.

Chipotle’s 30-second ad is titled “Can a Burrito Change the World?”, and you can view it here. The ad will run during Sunday night’s game, which will be held at a one-third full Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. It’s estimated that Chipotle paid around $5.5 million for the spot, according to ad industry estimates. That sounds expensive, but if TV viewership runs according to recent form, the ad might be seen by as many as 100 million people.

The Chipotle ad centers on a young boy who stares at his burrito and wonders out loud, in earshot of his clearly annoyed older sister, whether a burrito could change the world.

“It could change how we plant things, water things, grow things, pick things, and transportation (sic) things,” the boy muses. “It could make our farmers happier. More organic. More soil helping, less carbon-emitting, and world-changing.”

The ad closes with a message from Chipotle: “How we grow our food is how we grow our future.”

Chipotle aims to use the ad to reinforce its “Food with Integrity” pledge. In late 2019 the company committed to helping the next generation of farmers by offering three-year contracts to farmers under 40 years old who meet the company’s “Food with Integrity” standards. Chipotle also said it would increase its local sourcing in the U.S. beginning in 2020, with the aim of serving more local ingredients in its restaurants.

The company even lists all of its ingredients on its website, where you’ll learn that it sources milk from pasture-raised cows and steak from responsibly raised beef. It’s part of an effort to provide more transparency on Chipotle’s supply chain and carbon footprint.

In a press release announcing the Super Bowl ad, Chipotle said it “believes the global pandemic has shifted consumer behavior to lean towards a community-focused society, further igniting a passion inside of many for making purchasing decisions that drive the difference in the world around them.” It also said the ad should help “(shed) light on how greater awareness of where food comes from and how it is grown can not only help everyone but also begin to reverse an agricultural industry crisis” that has seen the industry lose 40 times more farmers than it has gained over the last decade.

“We want to use this massive platform to help shift attention toward creating positive change for the challenges our food system faces and educate consumers on how they can make a difference,” Chief Marketing Officer Chris Brandt said in a statement.

On Super Bowl Sunday, Chipotle will donate one dollar from every order to the National Young Farmers Coalition, an advocacy group. Customers who order from the Chipotle website or app won’t have to pay a delivery fee.

The National Young Farmers Coalition is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit based in Hudson, N.Y., that serves a network of nearly 200,000 farmers, ranchers, and supporters in the U.S. It works to bolster the following principles and initiatives:

  • Independent Family Farms.
  • Sustainable Farming Practices
  • Affordable Land for Farmers
  • Fair Labor Practices
  • Farmer-to-Farmer Training
  • Farmers of Every Gender, Race, and Sexual Orientation
  • Cooperation and Friendship Between All Farmers

Chipotle and its foundation have contributed millions of dollars over the years to support American farmers. The chain donates 5 percent of the profits from the Tractor Beverage drinks it sells to causes that benefit farmers.

Despite those philanthropic efforts, Chipotle’s reputation took a hit a few years ago when more than 1,100 customers got sick from food served at its restaurants. Last April the Los Angeles-based company paid a record $25 million to settle criminal charges for serving tainted food. In one high-profile incident, an E. coli outbreak at Chipotle spread to multiple states, forcing the chain to temporarily close dozens of restaurants. Chipotle admitted that poor safety practices led to many of the problems. The one-time darling of Wall Street saw its image, sales, and stock price plummet. 

But Chipotle has come roaring back over the past year. Digital sales have more than tripled over the last couple of quarters as the coronavirus pandemic has led to an increase in takeout and delivery business. Meanwhile, Chipotle’s stock price, which trades under the ticker CMG, has risen more than 70 percent in the last year.

Maybe Chipotle is changing the world one burrito at a time?

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