Dailey Introduces Loco Mascot

The land of spokesanimals has a new addition: El Pollo Loco’s stressed-out chicken who’s too busy to cook.

The animated spokesbird, named Loco, is appearing in a new campaign by Dailey & Associates for the Irvine, Calif., fast-food chain, which specializes in flame-broiled chicken and Mexican-style entrées. The West Hollywood, Calif., shop has handled the $7 million account since 1998.

“We’ve had three consecutive years of positive sales,” said agency vp, management supervisor Michael Gretzinger. “Our advertising has been very food-focused, and that kind of advertising obviously works. But it wasn’t that memorable.”

Client vp of marketing Margaret Jenkins said sales are up nearly 20 percent over the last three years, to $340 million.

While ads continue to “star” the food, Gretzinger said Loco is meant to raise general awareness of El Pollo Loco, which has 300 restaurants in California, Arizona, Nevada and Texas. Jenkins said the Loco character is a “logical concept” as the chain looks to use “the same strategy and message points in a newer, fresher way. … The chicken portrays the craziness of our consumer’s lifestyle.”

The campaign introduces the tag line, “When things get crazy, you need El Pollo Loco,” which replaces “When you’re crazy for chicken.”

One TV spot, designed to run as a 30-second or two 15-second ads, has Loco frantically vacuuming against a white background. As he starts to get sucked into the vacuum, he says, “You’ve got a million things to do and no time to make dinner.” He also opens his empty wallet and says, “You’ve got no time for lunch and even less money.” Menu items are offered as solutions.

Jenkins said there are five concepts that can be used for various promotions, depending on the success of the first ad. Loco will also be used in 60-second radio spots.

Ads primarily target women 25-54. TV spots will run through the end of the year, said Gretzinger.