3 Comedians Get Awkwardly ‘Real’ Inside a Giant Burrito in Chipotle’s Confessional TV Ads

John Mulaney, Jillian Bell and Sam Richardson each take a turn

The fast-casual chain stages a comeback with its first broadcast-focused ad campaign by Venables Bell & Partners.
YouTube: Chipotle

A still-recovering Chipotle has turned to three of the biggest up-and-coming comedy stars to drive its first campaign designed specifically for broadcast TV.

The work, which launched today, focuses on “realness” with the help of John Mulaney (The Oh, Hello Show), Jillian Bell (Workaholics, Curb Your Enthusiasm) and Sam Richardson (Veep).

The three each take a turn inside a supersize burrito as Transparent star Jeffrey Tambor provides a bit of critical advice from the voiceover booth.

The empty tortilla doesn’t include a therapist’s couch, and it’s not quite a bar (though it does feature a roaring fire and a calming pianist). It’s more like a relaxation room, and things quickly turn awkward in the first spot, “Husband.”

As it turns out, that wasn’t quite “as real as it gets.”

“In a world full of fakery and half-truths, it’s invigorating to hear a brand tell it like it is,” said chief marketing and development officer Mark Crumpacker. “This campaign challenges the conventions of fast-food advertising by being completely real—not only about our food, but about the world we live in—and it does so with an optimism and playful humor that’s very much in line with our brand.”

“As Real as It Gets” marks the first collaboration between Chipotle and its new creative agency of record, Venables Bell & Partners. The fast-casual chain signed Adweek’s 2016 Breakthrough Agency of the Year in large part to help it bounce back after an E. coli scare in late 2015 and attendant stock price spiral from which it has yet to fully recover.

The next set of ads stars stand-up comedian and longtime Saturday Night Live writer Mulaney.

While the comedians specialize in, you know, comedy, the seemingly gentle burrito room forbids all jokes.

Sam Richardson fares no better when subjected to the whims of the disembodied, judgmental voice of the burrito.

He does, however, seem to finally realize that he missed his calling as a member of the police department’s mounted unit—or, in his own words, “a horse cop.”

When not distracted by the smooth sounds of Richardson’s soulful jazz piano, viewers may notice that the campaign does not mention the single “realest” thing about Chipotle: its ingredients.

Previous campaigns like last fall’s effort from GSD&M more explicitly highlighted the quality of the chain’s avocados, but VB&P is more interested in subverting expectations and scoring unexpected jokes along the way.

“We set out to avoid all the conventions of fast-food advertising,” said the shop’s executive creative director and partner Will McGinness. “Using humor and a commitment to telling it like it is, we cut through the clutter of confusing claims, limited time offers or farmers holding produce and created a campaign that is very true to who they are.”

MullenLowe Mediahub handled media placement and strategy for the campaign, which also includes radio, digital, social media and out-of-home work like the billboards below.

CREDITS

Client: Chipotle Mexican Grill
Agency: Venables Bell + Partners

Founder/Chairman: Paul Venables
Executive Creative Director: Will McGinness
Creative Director: Tom Scharpf
Art Directors: Amanda Younger, Avery Oldfield and Mark Lawson
Copywriters: Jimmy Burton, Adam Wolinsky and Eric Boyd
Head of Strategy: Michael Davidson
Senior Brand Strategist: Jake Bayham
Director of Digital Strategy and Analytics: Jeff Burger
Group Communication Strategy Director: Gavin Jones
Director of Integrated Production: Craig Allen
Producer: Gabby Gardner
Group Brand Director: Kammie Sulaiman Dascola
Brand Manager: Mikaela Kearns
Assistant Brand Manager: Ursula Reichle
Project Manager: Madi McCallum
Director of Business Affairs: Quynh-An Phan
Business Affairs/Talent Manager: Yelena Kompaneyets
Senior Traffic Manager: Jermelia Holling
Assistant Traffic/Business Affairs Manager: Malcolm Konner

Production Company: O Positive
Director: David Shane
Director of Photography: Maryse Alberti
Executive Producer: Ralph Laucella
Producer: Ken Licata
Production Designer: Maia Javan