In the U.S., just under 50% of its customers are Hispanic, said
Federico Valiente, brand lead and director of marketing at Pollo
Campero International, which runs the company's non-Central
American business out of a Dallas headquarters. After hitting $100
million in U.S. sales for the first time in 2016, the goal is to
double U.S. sales in the next three years, he said.
To do that, Pollo Campero is hiring Omnicom-owned Dieste, the
fourth-biggest U.S. Hispanic agency. Until now, the fast-food chain
has worked mostly with different local partners on a project
"Dieste has experience with imported brands,"
Valiente said. "And with creative that not only resonates with a
core Hispanic customer base but is also relevant and appealing to
For Goya Foods, another family-owned Latin brand, Dieste is doing a hilarious campaign about Hispanic
parents' fear of losing their Latin child, illustrated by a little
girl who has to take Latin food to school and horrifies her mother
by choosing nachos, and a boy who throws (rather than kicks), a
soccer ball. Parents win them back though authentic Latin food,
creating homemade meals with Goya products.
Pollo Campero faces a similar challenge, to connect with its
Hispanic consumer base while also introducing the brand to
non-Hispanics. And the work has to make sense in both Spanish and
English, Valiente said.
"I love their approach when looking for an agency," said Ciro
Sarmiento, Dieste's chief creative officer. "They said 'We're not
just looking for Hispanic, but for the total market'."
Still family-owned, Pollo Campero opened in Guatemala in 1971
and has more than 350 restaurants worldwide, including 73 in the
U.S., with 14 more to open this year.
Pollo Campero (literal translation: Rural Chicken) sells
"chicken with a twist" that includes different flavors, spices and
side dishes, Sarmiento said. Chicken is grilled or fried, and
served with dipping sauces and plantains or yucca fries, with dulce
de leche empanadas or flan for dessert. Fresh fruit drinks like
jamaica, or hibiscus, outsell Pepsi. Every summer has a
theme, like guava, with guava dipping sauces, drinks, and dessert.
Last year was avocado summer, and for 2017 Valiente promises
Millennials make up 64% of Pollo Campero's customers, higher
than average for the fast-food business, Valiente said. "Younger
segments are more adventurous, in life and with their palettes. And
from a demographic standpoint, Hispanics tend to be younger."
Millennials are also disproportionately Hispanic, accounting for
more than 20% of the cohort, and many are U.S.-born
English-speakers or bilingual, the type of consumer who might not
know the brand but is familiar with Latin food.
With fewer than 100 restaurants scattered around California,
Texas, New York and Washington, D.C., Pollo Campero was also
looking for an ad agency with digital expertise, to reach young,
far-flung customers. The company is testing a bilingual mobile app,
launched in the last month in Houston and Dallas, that lets people
order and pay ahead of time.
Valiente said the marketing budget, as a percentage of last
year's $100 million in U.S. sales, breaks down to 3% for local
store marketing and 1% for a national marketing fund.
With a brand that has grown beyond its traditional Central
American customer base, the next step is to develop and launch with
Dieste an umbrella campaign that will connect with both existing
and new customers, he said.
"Communication to Hispanics is important, but we have to make
sure whatever is developed can be leveraged for other segments, and
in a way that's cost effective," said Valiente, who grew up in El
Salvador, where you are rarely far from a Pollo Campero. "As we
grow and expand to other regions and customers, we have to make
sure we stay true to the brand."
Contributing: Jessica Wohl