January 11, 2008

Chipotle's "30 Seconds of Fame" Contest

Recently, Chipotle held their second annual “30 Seconds of Fame” contest which had schools competing to see who could produce the best 30-second commercial. The spots were judged by Chipotle’s internal marketing group and scoring was based on originality, creativity, and consistency with Chipotle’s brand name.

Teams from Chapman University and Northern Illinois University tied for first place, beating out 45 other advertisements. They will split the $30,000 prize. The videos, including the wining entries, can be found at

University of Illinois students Chris Darkes, Brittany Samson, Sara Honchar and Joe Giorgio produced one of the winning videos, titled “Just the Fax.” Darkes shared his experience with Black Turtle Media. “This is going to sound really crazy, but the idea actually came to me in a dream after I was thinking about possible commercial ideas” he says.

Asked about the production process, Darkes says, “It consisted of me sketching out a storyboard so the others could follow. After that, we planned the shots, and shot for about five hours. A few nights later we edited the piece to fit the [time] guidelines.” Darkes and his team were pleased with the final result. “It had a really good payoff at the end, the shots were precise and it looked really professional.”

Darkes says that winning the contest has increased the group’s confidence and is a strong boost to their resumes. After college, Darkes plans to go out to California and pursue a career in acting and possibly directing.

Darkes offers the following advice to fellow contest commercial directors: “If you think you have a great idea, storyboard it out and do everything you can to keep it the way you want. Everyone has creativity; some people just don't know it. And make it look professional.”