After less than a year working together, El Pollo Loco and its agency, indie Goodness Mfg, have parted ways, according to people familiar with the matter. It was believed that the split would spark an agency review.
Calls to El Pollo Loco were not returned. Rick Eiserman, CEO at Los Angeles-based Goodness Mfg, confirmed the departure, saying, "We're proud of the success of the last 24 weeks consecutive year over year increased sales, and the work we did. It's unfortunate that we ultimately had creative and strategic differences and we wish the new management well in the future." The agency became the chain's agency of record in February.
The chain in the last year-plus has seen turnover in its C-suite. In October, Ed Valle was named chief marketing officer, replacing Karen Eadon, who left the company in October 2010. Mr. Valle was previously chief marketing strategist for Choice Hotels International and VP-marketing at Panera. El Pollo Loco in January named Steve Sather president-CEO. Mr. Sather was acting as interim chief after Steve Carley left the chain in August 2010 to helm Red Robin Gourmet Burgers.
The privately held chain has struggled recently, selling off a number of its bankrupt locations this year. In 2010, sales were down 4.3% to $557 million, according to Technomic.
El Pollo Loco, headquartered in Costa Mesa, Calif., spent about $14 million on U.S. measured media, according to Kantar. The chain has about 400 restaurants located primarily in California, with additional restaurants in Arizona, Connecticut, Illinois, Nevada, Oregon, Texas and Utah.