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El Pollo Loco grills content marketing

El Pollo Loco is in digital extension mode.

The Costa Mesa-based restaurant chain (Nasdaq: LOCO) has found a new home on ICT Tac as part of its efforts to reach a younger audience. Those efforts kicked into high gear in March, when the company’s former chief financial officer, larry robertstepped into the role of CEO.

This promotion came about a month after the former McDonald’s executive Andrew Rebhun was promoted to marketing director.

Along with having new menu items that reflect what consumers are posting online — new birria beef tacos, for example — the nearly $340 million chain, with more than 480 locations, explores what media planning and storytelling can do to attract new customers to the 42-year-old company.

“It’s about the ability to try to convince a consumer that they should give your brand a chance, the ability to influence a purchase of $1, $10 or $20,” said Rebhun, who has joined the company in 2019, at the Business Journal.

Online presence

When announcing the company’s 2021 fiscal results in March, Roberts told analysts about the company’s plans to increase investments in digital media and brand messaging, with a focus on quality. food and cultural roots.

The result?

“Not only have we increased our social media marketing spend, but we’ve created unique new content across major social media platforms, which allows us to send targeted messages to diverse user groups, especially to our young consumers,” Roberts said.

The company tapped TikTok influencers to promote beef birria tacos; the campaign garnered over 21 million impressions, while the El Pollo Loco hashtag reached over 120 million views on the platform.

“We saw a strong acceleration in our birria sales even before our TV marketing went live,” Roberts said.

The CEO also reported record sales across the company for three consecutive weeks after the launch of birria, from franchisees to company-owned locations.

“We did a soft roll of birria probably about four or five days before doing anything on social media or TV, and it was blending…probably about 1.5%,” Roberts said. “We then went to TikTok. And that day, that mix jumped to 8.5% from TikTok alone. So it’s been a phenomenal platform for us.

Company ownership based in China ByteDance, the social networking app launched in 2016 after merging with video and music app Musical.ly. According Insider informationAccording to forecasts, TikTok will have 750 million monthly users in 2022 and approach 1 billion users in 2025.

El Pollo Loco’s TikTok profile currently has 137,300 followers and 2.9 million likes. Birria taco videos have had between 1.8 million and 4.2 million views.

“Approved Abuela”

After launching the notable menu items of birria and tostada on TikTok and its other platforms, El Pollo Loco decided to launch a campaign specifically for social media.

It started with a campaign called “Abuela Approved”, with the aim of providing a more authentic face of the brand through the character of Abuela.

“There’s a connection between a grandchild and a grandparent that we wanted to address,” Rebhun told the Business Journal. The campaign not only “indicates the generation gap, but allows us to cross it in an authentic way”.

The decision to feature an Abuela, Spanish for grandma, came from research within TikTok, which had 6.6 billion views under the hashtag “abuela”.

“We saw a desire to consume multi-generational content,” Rebhun said.

Abuela videos will continue to release throughout the summer, directed by Yubicela Brito.

Media lens

El Pollo Loco’s social media push reflects a major shift in media consumption from the pandemic era of fast-paced entertainment.

“We will position ourselves and our storytelling through the lens of media channels and the avenues where customers line up to consume content,” Rebhun said.

The company’s marketing efforts will continue across all social media platforms, from TikTok to Facebook at Youtube to cast a wider net.

“We are becoming more relevant in the way we talk to consumers, and [will continue] amplify brand storytelling efforts,” said Rebhun.