DMNews talks with Mark Hardison, VP of marketing for restaurant El Pollo Loco

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DMNews talks with Mark Hardison, VP of marketing for restaurant El Pollo Loco
DMNews talks with Mark Hardison, VP of marketing for restaurant El Pollo Loco

Mark Hardison, VP of marketing for Mexican-inspired fast food restaurant El Pollo Loco, explains how the chain was able to connect on a social level to engage consumers with a user-generated video campaign.

Q: Why did El Pollo Loco decide to explore UGC with the “Where's the flame grill?” campaign?

A: Our presence in the market that we do business in was previously limited to broadcast advertising and traditional media. We sought to have our consumers tell us why our product is so much better than other grilled chicken.

Q: Why did you feel a user-generated campaign would be more effective than a traditional media or broadcast advertising?

A: We wanted to connect directly with the consumers and give them a voice. This was our first foray into a consumer-generated campaign.

Q: So how did the campaign (with agency MindComet) work?

A: We really wanted to promote the fact that many of our competi­tors don't have flame grills in their restaurants. We wanted to point out that difference and drive it home for our target audience. At first, we had these really high hopes of getting consumers to take video cameras into our competitors and ask thecashier where the flame grill was and see what kind of responses we had. But when we met with our counsel, they said that we couldn't do that. We learned so much from the legal end on this.

Q: How did you reach consumers and what did they have to do?

A: We promoted it with an e-mail campaign and through blog posts on our site We asked consumers to create a small video describing why El Pollo Loco flame grilled chicken is so much better than any other way of cook­ing chicken.

Q: What was the response rate?

A: We had more than 117 videos sent to us in 30 days. We had 30,000 new views on the microsite that had a duration of more than 2.5 minutes. So we had a lot of good interaction with consumers. If you submitted a video that was viewed the most you won a cash prize, a grill of your own and a gift card to El Pollo Loco.

Q: What were some of the key takeaways?

A: We think there is a lot of power in consumer-generated media. It is fun to have people interact with the brand in such an intimate way. Also, we learned about legal risk in consumer-generated media as well.

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