El Pollo Loco introduces steak with multifaceted campaign

COSTA MESA, CA: Restaurant chain El Pollo Loco is executing an extensive bilingual PR campaign around the launch of new sirloin steak menu items, combining traditional and social media.

COSTA MESA, CA: Restaurant chain El Pollo Loco is executing an extensive bilingual PR campaign around the launch of new sirloin steak menu items, combining traditional and social media. Focusing on the message that the restaurant is an expert in flame-grilling, the campaign kicked off on January 9, when the menu items officially debuted.

"For El Pollo Loco, which is known as a chicken chain, to introduce steak, that is pretty significant news," said Julie Weeks, VP of communications for El Pollo Loco. "We wanted to have a PR campaign that harnessed the combined power of social media with traditional media, to create awareness and appetite for our new citrus-marinated flame-grilled sirloin steak."

The company targeted business, retail, and food editors and offered its president and CEO, Stephen Carley, for interviews. It worked with the Wall Street Journal for an exclusive prior to the launch, and a piece in its hometown paper, The Orange County Register, the day the items launched.

The Rogers Group aided the campaign, after helping the company in its "Taste the Fire" campaign last year, which targeted KFC's new grilled chicken. Fishman PR, its AOR for franchising, also worked on trade outreach and franchise PR.

As is typical of the restaurant, all outreach was also done in Spanish, and the company reached out to Spanish-language outlets "because El Pollo Loco has a broad consumer base that includes a prominent Hispanic base," Weeks addded.

Online, El Pollo Loco has a presence on Facebook and Twitter and has been "teasing the story," Weeks said. It also offered online coupons and targeted mommy, food, and deal bloggers. El Pollo Loco also plans to introduce viral videos in the coming weeks on its YouTube channel.

In its locations, El Pollo Loco is using signage to promote the new menu items. In addition, it will host a "Steak Stampede" event in its Los Angeles location on Sunset Boulevard on January 20. Customers who come dressed as a cowboy from 10am to 3pm receive a free steak taco.

"Our strategy was to use humor in that campaign," Weeks said, "and our other strategy was to really leverage our flame-grilling expertise in every communication we did."

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