Qdoba hires Havas Formula to bring ‘flavor’ to diners' lives

‘Their whole platform is about being the flavor authority,’ said agency CEO Michael Olguin.

Photo credit: Getty Images
Photo credit: Getty Images

SAN DIEGO: Qdoba Mexican Eats has selected Havas Formula as its PR AOR.

Qdoba, headquartered in San Diego, launched an RFP process in Q4 2019 and picked Havas Formula in January. The agency started working with the fast-casual chain immediately.

“We always start with a broad field; we want to ensure we are going after any agency who we think on the surface could be a good fit,” said Jill Adams, Qdoba’s VP of marketing. “We started with a list of 18 and narrowed it down to eight and then had six that formally pitched the business.”

The company picked Havas Formula based on a combination of the firm’s shared San Diego presence, food and beverage expertise, strong cultural fit and boutique feel with big agency resources, said Adams.

Havas Formula is handling media relations, influencer programs and in-store promotions. Its program also includes thought leadership and brand amplification.  

Qdoba’s purpose is to bring “flavor” to people’s lives and find moments that put a smile on someone’s face, said Adams. Havas Formula is helping the brand to find those moments and bring its purpose to life in a meaningful way, she explained.

“Their whole platform is about being the flavor authority; they want you to come there because you want to try unique flavoring,” said Havas Formula CEO Michael Olguin. “They don’t want to just be a Mexican fast-food restaurant. It is the flavor of the whole brand that’s important.”

Havas Formula will work with the chain’s corporate executive chef, Katy Velazquez, to bring stories about how Qdoba introduces flavors to the marketplace to life. The agency is amplifying stories through the brand's limited-time offers, promotions and overarching messaging for the brand.

“They are too regionalized right now and they want to be more of a national-focused brand,” Olguin added.

Havas Formula helped Qdoba this month with its 10th-annual Valentine’s Day campaign, Qdoba for a Kiss. Customers who shared a kiss with someone -- or something -- at a Qdoba location on February 14 received a free entrée.

“Now they are getting ready to go into some new menu items we have coming up in March,” said Adams, about upcoming work. 

Qdoba has more than 730 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada.

Havas Formula EVP Ditas Mauricio is leading a team of six on the account. Budget information was not disclosed.

Qdoba worked with Bolt PR, which was listed on company press releases, last year. A Bolt representative could not be reached for comment. Adams declined to comment on incumbent agencies. 

“We felt like Havas Formula was the right fit for where we are today in our brand journey,” said Adams. “It felt like the right moment to move to an agency that was larger.”

Apollo Global Management, which acquired Qdoba in March 2018 from Jack in the Box for $305 million, is reportedly exploring a sale of the chain.

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