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Moonbot Delivers Feature Quality Animation for Chipotle’s “Scarecrow”

American food chain Chipotle eschews TV advertising and stopped using external ad agencies a few years ago, but when they create ad campaigns, they go all out. Their latest project is “The Scarecrow,” a game-and-film collaboration with Bill Joyce’s Moonbot Studios based in Shreveport, Lousiana.

“The Scarecrow”, conceived in collaboaration with CAA Marketing (a division of Creative Artists Agency), is a free arcade-style adventure game for iPad/iPhone/iPod Touch that encourages players to think about industrial food production and the processed foods that they consume. Players can win coupons for free Chipotle food if they achieve certain goals within the game. There’s also an accompanying short film directed by Brandon Oldenburg and Limbert Fabian, and music by Fiona Apple:

Like their earlier “Back to the Start” campaign, Chipotle’s “Scarecrow” campaign is being praised for putting across its message in an entertaining, classy package. Adweek says, “Branded entertainment goes doesn’t get much more well rounded or better executed than this.”

Moonbot, which won the animated short Oscar in 2012 for The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore, has created a lush and well-conceived feature film-quality universe for The Scarecrow. The golden-hued nostalgia that defines the studio’s visual aesthetic is a perfect complement to the environmental themes of Chipotle’s campaign.

This making-of video reveals some of the effort that went into creating The Scarecrow:

  • Aw hell, I don’t care if it was made to sell an app, that short was simply beautiful. Wonderful animation, great storytelling, and a melancholy but fitting soundtrack. I love it.

  • George_Cliff

    I find the choice of music interesting considering it originated in another movie who’s primary purpose was to serve as an extended commercial for a new line of Quaker Oats candy bars back before Internets walked the earth. I think if Ms. Apple had scored that movie Mr. Bucket would probably have committed suicide. Depressing stuff especially if we are to believe that Chipotle is some kind of answer =(. Not sure how they work their culinary black magic but every time I’ve eaten their I’ve been treated to a mouthful of fat in just about every blighty bite of their chicken.

    On a decidedly more positive note, nice visuals Moonbot.

    • Ant G

      are chicken not suppose to have any fat in them? Is fat entirely bad for you? There’s eating healthy and then there’s people obsessed with pretending all they eat is organic and “healthy”

  • Matt

    Chipolte, show us proof that these big so called industrial farms are producing horrible food for us all to eat, show us the abuse of the animals. You cannot because it is not wide spread as you make it out to be. Farmers care for their cattle, chickens etc because abuse would lead to disease which would lead to a loss of profit. I like your food Chipolte but do not drum up falsehoods claiming what is simply not true.

    • Nick

      Go watch Food, Inc. Chipotle gave free tickets to that film when it was in theaters.

      • SarahJesness

        I don’t doubt that factory farming isn’t a widespread thing, but you might want to post a source more reputable than PETA. That group is nuts and I wouldn’t put it past them to make stuff up.

        • Is there anything you find factually inaccurate about that article? What have they done that makes them not reputable?

  • Brent Tyler

    Absolutely gorgeous, great style, amazing music. I want to see more of this world! It’s approaching the Lorax with it’s message though.

  • Moonbot are so phenomenally good. That’s two-for-two with affecting, beautiful, great sounding animated shorts. I really hope these guys do a feature someday soon.

  • rugby

    The short film is fabulous! Looks great, sounds great. Smart staging and camera choices. Unfortunately it’s the same kind of propaganda that it decries.

  • Vin

    Congratualtions, Limbert!

  • Toonio

    Chipotle really rolled hard on ye olde Mickey D (or the other chains just to be equally fair) with this one.

    Congrats to Moonbot’s squad, hope this paves the way towards a full feature.

  • George Comerci

    I thought it was an awesome animation, and deserves to at least get an oscar nomination. pleasently surprised, for a fast food commercial :D

    • Kevin Koch

      Thanks for the compliments, George! It’s great when something you labor over gets so much positive reaction! I don’t think an Oscar nom is in the cards, though, since the film debuted on the internet. This wasn’t an accident — submitting the film for Oscar consideration would likely have garnered a backlash, since it’s part of a marketing campaign, and winning awards wasn’t the goal. Hope you’re checking out the game, too. That’s my favorite part of the whole thing.

  • Nice

    Moonbot killing it’

  • Mona

    Gorgeous! Such stunning visuals and great storytelling. I wish they could give more insight on how they blended the stop motion with CG. I love the work coming out of MoonBot.

    • Kevin Koch

      We didn’t actually do stop motion animation. We blended miniature sets and props with the CG scarecrow in a few shots. You can see some glimpses of the set and props in the ‘making of’ video here. The main shots where this was done was the one of the scarecrow harvesting corn and the subsequent shot of him chopping peppers and preparing food.

  • David D

    I loved it, but… if I buy a beef burrito or a chicken quesadilla at Chipotle… where does THAT meat come from?

    • William Bradford

      from dead cows and chickens to be sure: but possibly ones that aren’t cooped up QUITE as tightly and are allowed to wander a bit. But yes, I think to REALLY drive this point home, he’d have to show how he’d look after livestock in a less contemptible way

  • doc hudson

    this is NOT, repeat NOT feature quality. It’s close though, very good job!

    • It’s a little different from most studios’ insanely detailed images, so I understand your comment. However I think that there is room for a variety of styles in animation. Sometimes less is more. I felt like this film found a cool balance between something like traditional animation, and the hyper detail we usually see in CG features.

      That said, I wasn’t a fan of how they designed the human characters. I would have rather they looked a little more naturalistic, but that’s just my opinion.

  • Hankenshift

    Nicely produced. I do wish Moonbot would get more into character animation, though. Still, ad work pays the bills, and they should all “look” this good.

  • mick

    he said it plain and simple, if anyone missed it he said it a second time. That’s all the proof I need

  • OtherDan

    Really nice short. I keep reviewing that heart-breaking shot of the cows being “milked”. If nothing else, it’s good that the short (and probably game) are raising the issue and causing dialog about how animals are processed. Most people I’ve viewed it with are skeptical about Chipotle’s involvement. Most think that they’re still tied to McDonalds, which I believe is false. Hopefully, the company lives up the message and thrives because they are indeed making a change. Looks like the jury is out on that.

  • Ben

    I love the short, it’s gorgeous and amazingly put together, but the overall message always comes off as rich people telling everyone how things should be and ignoring the fact that 1 in 6 Americans go hungry. It goes way to close to the people protesting genetically modified crops that are designed to grow in harsh conditions and feed people in starving countries to me.

  • Mark

    Didn’t Joyce also work on Rise of the Guardians and Epic?

  • Pedro Nakama

    Wow! I’m feeling all emotional…. about burritos.

  • Tim Elliot

    A great response to the commercialization of this short film, lyrics changed to say what they’re “really” saying: