Wednesday, January 13, 2010

El Pollo Is Loco

Between office politics, shifting loyalties, and just general overall misguidedness, there isn't a lot of redemption in the world of advertising.

But there is some.

Let's back the story up to 2003. El Pollo Loco, a regional chain of flame-grilled chicken restaurants, was looking for a new ad agency. 63 agencies, large and small, pitched the business. We, meaning Young & Rubicam, prevailed.

During the course of the next year and capitalizing on the mouth-watering effects of chicken over a sizzling grill, we produced more than 75 TV commercials with a production budget of less than $200,000. Astounding? You bet. But even more incredible, in one year same store sales rose 13.1%.

Champagne and Cuban cigars for everybody right? Hardly. The client spoiled the party, dumped Y&R and gave the account to a smaller shop with smaller brains.

After years of lame campaigns that have earned the derision of everyone in the ad business,
El Pollo Loco is taking it on the chin.

Last night, having dispatched my opponents in Scrabble, I went to the El Pollo Loco website to check in on their sales. Not so good. I'm no whiz with 'operating revenue', 'capitol expenditures' or 'tax-writedowns', but several consecutive quarters of declining sales, that I understand.

I know it's not proper etiquette to gloat about a former client's misfortune, but it is nice to know that the Karma Train has added an official stop in Irvine, California.


Anonymous said...

Great story. Out the countless clients you must have worked on over the years, The Crazy Chicken must have really left a mark on you. Clients are like children you can warn them but they have to make their own mistakes no matter how bad they may be. The good news is you are not the parent and rejoice in the fact that they are truly someone else problem.

David Murphy said...

Great post Rich! Only one factual error. I had the distinct pleasure of calling the client to tell them we were resigning the account after they started inviting people to pitch ideas on the side. Such a shame. Your campaign rocked. My fav: "Fire. Gooood."