Authenticity the Focus of Team One’s Rubio’s Ads

A lobster dances and sings to the tune of “La Bamba” in Team One Advertising’s first TV campaign for Rubio’s Baja Grill.

As he shouts “Rubio’s!” and collapses on the sand, the focus shifts to the Mexican-style restaurant chain’s new offer—lobster tacos for $1.99.

The new tagline for the TV and radio ads is: “Now that’s true Baja.”

While competitors such as Baja Fresh and La Salsa may make similar claims about authentic cuisine, Rubio’s has an edge, said Richard Turner, management director at Team One. He pointed to the story of how Rubio’s began—with San Diego State student Ralph Rubio going to Baja on spring break in the 1970s and returning with a recipe for fish tacos.

“Rubio’s began with Ralph Rubio bringing Baja to us,” Turner said. “The mixture of foods offered on the menu and the way they’re prepared are very authentic.”

Spending was undisclosed. When the El Segundo, Calif., shop won the account earlier this year, the annual budget was estimated at $4 million [Adweek, Jan. 8].

The commercials open with unscripted footage of what Turner called “interesting, quirky, fun things that happened in Baja.” They were shot with a variety of cameras to give them a home-movie feel, he said.

One 30-second spot includes images of a boy swimming in the ocean, fish jumping and people spending the day in the fields.

The TV spots are airing in San Diego through June 17; radio ads are airing in San Diego and Los Angeles. The media buy was handled by Mediaspot in Corona del Mar, Calif.

“San Diego is the most mature market for them,” Turner said. “It’s also where they experience the most intense competition.”

Creative was previously handled by Vitro-Robertson in San Diego. Those ads used the tagline “Rubio’s. … Baja. … So close you can taste it.”

Rubio’s is based in Carlsbad, Calif., and operates 133 Baja Grill restaurants in California, Arizona, Nevada, Utah and Colorado.