During the Dallas Cowboys-Las Vegas Raiders Thanksgiving football game on Thursday, restaurant chain Chipotle Mexican Grill aired an unusual commercial. Weeble-like characters enact a series of scenes in which a farmer dad suffers a health crisis while trying to get back to his home in heavy snow, leaving his grown son to take over the farm. The son brings in modern technology and saves the farm, profiting by selling crops to Chipotle.
It's all set to a beautiful version of Coldplay's Fix You, sung by Kacey Musgraves.
The ad is more than two minutes long, and really is a heartbreaking short film more than a typical commercial. When it was posted on Chipotle's YouTube channel on Nov. 15, many comments were positive.
"I grew up on a family farm and totally relate to the message," said one commenter. "We need more young people to come back to their family farms and keep them out of big-time corporate interest money-grubbers. Thanks Chipotle for supporting family farming!!"
In a press release on Nov. 16, Chipotle said that the film, called A Future Begins, is "based on the true story of a Chipotle farmer" and family that sent a child off to college but struggled to keep their farm intact, with the child returning to save the day through new tech and sustainable growing techniques. The company also urged support for the 2023 Farm Bill, the proposed successor to an existing Farm Bill set to expire that year.
Chipotle didn't immediately respond to a request for additional comment about the film and the response to it.
When the ad aired during Thanksgiving football, some were confused, and said so on social media. For one thing, many thought the farmer died while fighting his way back to his home in head-high snowdrifts. But ... WAIT! There he is, standing next to his wife and their son's family, in the ad's final seconds. So he didn't die? Just had to bring in his son's assistance due to snow inhalation? Had a snow-caused heart attack? Broke his hip and was dug out from the snow drifts by his elderly wife? Not everyone understood.
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"Did we really just see a @ChipotleTweets commercial where an elderly cartoon farmer died shoveling snow?" said one person. "Kinda makes me want a burrito."
Said another, "Laughed out loud when the very long weepy commercial with a cartoon weeble wobble farmer seemingly freezing to death in the snow finally revealed it was for chipotle."
Others pointed out that careful viewers would know the farmer survived.
"He didn't die," said one person. "But the son had to take over the farm. He revamped the operations, got married & had a baby. Everyone is alive & well."
But while opinions on the ad may have been divided, perhaps all publicity is good publicity?
"Terrible lol but we're all talking about it, is that a win for [them]?" said one person.