Chipotle Smashed Through the Ice in a Stanley Cup Quarterfinal

Giant burrito bowl, fork, glove disrupt game

Remember when players fighting and fans leaping onto the ice were the most disruptive stuff you'd see at NHL games? Well, that ain't nothin' compared to a stunt Chipotle unleashed on May 19 during TNT's broadcast of a Stanley Cup quarterfinal game between the Colorado Avalanche and St. Louis Blues.

When the network seemingly returned from commercials to start the third period, a branded Zamboni drove a humongous burrito bowl and fork out to center ice.

Play-by-play announcer Alan Roach cheerfully narrated the scene, which took a jarringly unexpected turn ...

... when a ginormous gloved hand smashed through the frozen surface, grabbed the bowl, vanished, and then popped back to nab the fork.

Of course, it was all an ad, lasting 45 seconds and devised by Venables Bell + Partners in collaboration with The Famous Group, with a CGI overlay transforming the rink for TNT viewers.

"This technology created the illusion that the event was happening in real-time out on the ice," VP+B creative director Greg Coffin tells Muse.

The spot, also screened in-game on the Enterprise Center Jumbotron, is visually impressive and goofy in a really good way. Its canny fusion of content and commerce calls to mind Tide's 2017 Super Bowl extravaganza in which a mysterious stain on announcer Terry Bradshaw's shirt led to a comical brand adventure.

It's also reminiscent of a visually stunning 2018 stunt by PlayStation and BBH, which turned the Golden State Warriors' court into a God of War simulation at halftime, using projection mapping.

Chipotle's mixed-reality play generated more than 200,000 Twitter views, plus lots of social chatter and media coverage.

"Experiences like this are a new way for brands to engage with their audience," says Coffin, offering mass reach, unlike VR, which remains somewhat limited because it relies on headsets for engagement. "Mixed reality is definitely in its infancy, and I think we'll see more and more brands leveraging the technology in the future. This is another tool for brand storytelling in a live context, making it different and exciting. As the technology evolves, these experiences will only become more immersive."


CLIENT | Chipotle
Chief Marketing Officer: Chris Brandt
VP, Brand Marketing: Stephanie Purdue
Senior Manager, Brand Marketing: Scott Robinson
Creative Director: Shelley Sheppard
Senior Creative: Bianca Pettinicchi

AGENCY | Venables Bell + Partners
Founder, Chairman: Paul Venables
Partner, President: Kate Marceau Jeffers
Partner, Chief Creative Officer: Will McGinness
Group Creative Director: Gus Johnston
Creative Director: Greg Coffin
Creative Director: James Duffy
Sr. Art Director: Diego Zelaya
Sr. Copywriter: Michael Ng
Group Brand Director: Kristin Obi
Brand Director: Justin West
Head of Integrated Production: Hilary Coate
Executive Producer: Dennis McKinley
Producer: Ben Latimer
Associate Business Affairs Director: Tina Thorland
Business Affairs Manager: Christine Tom

PRODUCTION | The Famous Group
Executive Vice President of Production: Andrew Isaacson
Executive Vice President, Creative Technology: CJ Davis
Executive Producer: Erik Burak
Creative Director: Hemu Karadkar
Head of Mixed Reality: Erik Beaumont 
Producer, Mixed Reality: Adam Berger
Producer, Mixed Reality: Gil Colon
Producer, Mixed Reality: Symon Coak
Lead Editor: Steve Davis
Lead UE Artist: Jeremy Lobdell
Unreal / Pixotope Artist: Halim Nagadi
3D Generalist / UE Artist: Dallas Robinson
Senior Environment Artist / UE Artist: Elpidio Loveranes
Houdini Artist: Christian Keller
3D Animator: Chris Villa
UE Lighting: JJ Kim
Pixotope Artist / Graphics Operator: Alex Zambrano
Sound Design & Mixer: Chris Pinkston

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