El Pollo Loco’s ‘Strong Like A Madre’ Relationship Marketing Campaign

by | Oct 6, 2022

Imagine that one homemade dish your mom used to make that instantly made your mouth water. Now, imagine that you decided to sell everything you owned to create a restaurant just for that single dish. Crazy to think about, right? Well, that’s the story behind El Pollo Loco and the driving force behind their 2021 relationship marketing campaign that celebrated hardworking mothers everywhere.

El Pollo Loco’s Relationship Marketing Campaign

A Dream That Hits Close To Home 

In 1975, El Pollo Loco began when Juan Francisco Ochoa sold all his belongings so he could achieve his dream of selling flame-grilled, marinated chicken to his community, based on his mother’s signature herb and citrus marinade. His first restaurant opened in Sinaloa, Mexico, and his customers instantly loved the recipe. It was fast, affordable, and delicious — and his success led to the chain’s expansion throughout northern Mexico.

Then, on Dec. 8, 1980, he opened his first U.S. restaurant in Los Angeles, and Americans fell in love with his food, service, and brand. Today, there are more than 487 El Pollo Loco restaurants across the country. 

The #StrongLikeAMadre Relationship Marketing Campaign

Ochoa had a unique business with a special meaning behind his brand. The company has a strong respect for mothers since the driving force behind the development of the restaurant was Ochoa’s mother. Because of this, the company could connect with others by sharing its origin story, and its 2021 relationship marketing campaign further strengthened the company’s connection and relatability with its customers. 

After the pandemic, many moms were out of work and out of luck, but El Pollo Loco tried to change that on Mother’s Day in 2021. “The pandemic has sparked what many people are calling a she-cession … Millions of jobs have been lost, and about a million moms have left the workforce altogether, erasing decades of progress that women and moms have made,” Bernard Acoca, El Pollo Loco’s president and CEO, told MediaPost. 

In response, the company launched the #StrongLikeAMadre Relationship Marketing Campaign, a 3-weeklong Instagram contest to award special grants to incredible mothers who are “Strong Like a Madre.” Each grant helps a mother in the greater Los Angeles area get back to pursuing her ambitions and dreams.

Of course, dreams look different for every mom, which is why they had three grant categories: the Dream Gig (to help moms be their own boss), the Dream Relaunch (to help moms break into their preferred industry), and the Dream Escape (to provide moms with a much-needed break). Over 12 Madreship grants were awarded to mothers struggling to pursue opportunities, needed resources like interview coaching or resume services, or simply couldn’t catch a break after a busy year in lockdown.

El Pollo Loco took a current event that’s been tough on many people and used it to create a positive experience for many women within their community. It’s incredible how the company used its brand to embrace its customers and heritage through this relationship marketing campaign. Today, we can learn much from El Pollo Loco and how relatable marketing strategies can positively impact your community and consumers’ lives. It shows that sharing your personal stories and experiences can touch the lives of others in more ways than one. If you’re looking for a way to reach your audience more meaningfully, take a look at our print newsletters and how we can help you build and strengthen your brand’s legacy.

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