Fast-Food Hunk Makes Fire Dance

LOS ANGELES Independent Krueger Communications’ latest commercial featuring fast-food chain El Pollo Loco’s poultry-grilling pinup breaks this week, according to the agency. In this sixth iteration, the Latin bird lover proves his ballroom moves are hardly limited to the chicken dance.

The 30-second spot begins as the spokes-hunk “Master of the El Pollo Loco Flame” attends to a fiery grill lined with plump, sizzling chickens. Accompanied by his signature music—a Brazilian rendition of Cuban folk anthem “La Guantanamera”— the sexy chef speaks passionately of the fire’s “delectable dance of delight.”

“Fires don’t ordinarily dance,” explained John Krueger, founder and creative director of the Torrance, Calif., shop. But the Master’s flames, he said, could dance all night. The agency relied on computer-generated imagery created by Los Angeles animation studio Just the Facts to accent its otherwise live-action execution.

When the Master calls for his flames to tango, they seductively romp around the grill; when he instructs them to disco, they burn up the cutting board. When they are told to polka, however, the animated flames turn to him in confusion.

“No, I joke,” says the Master, flashing a sly smile.

This is the final spot in Krueger’s initial “Taste the Fire” ad series, which launched in May 2004 as part of an effort to rebrand El Pollo Loco and introduce new menu items. But potential diners have not seen the last of the Master: He will star in another six-spot “different, more edgy” campaign this spring, Krueger said.

Based in Irvine, Calif., the steadily expanding fast-food chain has more than 300 locations in five states. The company’s annual ad spend was about $12 million in both 2003 and 2004, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.