Andy Rebhun, the CMO of El Pollo Loco, on Abuela Approved Content on TikTok
Andy Rebhun, the CMO of El Pollo Loco, shares about their new TikTok content series Abuela Approved. Abuela Approved content offers funny stories that anybody can relate to, such as receiving fashion advice and discussion around entertainment, sports, and food. This comedic series has received a lot of attention on TikTok, demonstrating the importance of creating relatable content.
Who is Andy Rebhun?
Andy Rebhun started as the Vice President and Head of Digital for El Pollo Loco two years ago. Recently, he was promoted to CMO, where he oversees the marketing department.
He explains, “Anything that touches the marketing function or has a digital touch point my team and I are responsible for.”
Abuela Approved Content
When asked how the idea for “Abuela Approved” content was formed, Andy explains that an agency El Pollo Loco is working with came to them with the idea. From there, they expanded on the idea to create an impactful campaign.
“[Abuela Approved] demonstrates and showcases the obvious bond that occurs within the Hispanic community between grandchild and grandparents. So, obviously, being a brand that’s really culturally rooted in Hispanic roots, we felt like this was a time period where we can really show that we can have fun with a campaign like this, where we can help unite the generations by spreading joy, humor, and love.”
Andy notes that “Abuela Advice” content was trending on TikTok, so they felt this was an opportune moment to lean into this trend and “showcase what we felt was a really strong moment for our brand.”
The Abuela Approved content’s target audience is between 18 and 34. However, the goal is to cast a larger net because everyone can find the content funny and relatable.
@elpolloloco Pollocoin is on the rise 🚀📈🔥 #elpolloloco #crypto #buythedip ♬ original sound – El Pollo Loco
Andy shares, “Everybody has an Abuela, you know. It doesn’t matter what culture you come from. I think ultimately, people who are older find it funny, people who are younger find it funny.”
Creating Relatable Content
Abuela Approved content aims to close the generational gap sometimes found in other content by creating content with widely relatable situations that everybody can relate to. Examples of these situations include receiving dating advice, knowing what to order for dinner, and talking about sports or entertainment.
Recently, El Pollo Loco published an Abuela Approved TikTok sharing Abuela’s “Pollo Coin” and take on the crypto market.
“Abuela really gets into it because she advises that Pollo Coin is a possible opportunity for the wave of the future, so it’s a comedic take on what’s been a very fluid conversation around the crypto market.”
The next episode puts Abuela on a baseball field where she’s completing the game’s final pitch. When she throws the pitch, you see it’s a chicken leg, which she tastes and loves.
The following episode shows Abuela giving her granddaughter advice on how to dress to land a date with Timothée Chalamet, whose last name she butchers, creating a hilarious scene.
The content is witty and helps unite the audience with its easy relatability.
“We’re going to have it [the Abuela Approved content] last for the summer and just kind of see how it goes. I think it could see a reappearance depending on success and relatability to the brand and what’s going on in a given moment.”
Creating for TikTok
Andy shares the following when asked why the Abuela Approved content is specifically created for TikTok.
“I think ultimately, given that TikTok skews a little bit younger. We felt like this was an opportunity for us to learn in heavily because as we try to grow our brand and build awareness… We felt like TikTok was the appropriate channel to be able to have this conversation.”
He expands on this by sharing that El Pollo Loco primarily showcases their food on Instagram. Their approach to Instagram is more about captivating the audience and showcasing brand moments, such as Cinco de Mayo, National Burrito Day, and National Taco Day.
“[TikTok] is a moment for us to really just showcase cultural authenticity and really do it in a way that can captivate the audience on the platform.”
@elpolloloco The game will never be the same 🍗 #elpolloloco #mlb #abuela ♬ original sound – El Pollo Loco
Goals for the Campaign
Andy shares that naturally, getting many views on TikTok is exciting. However, the most significant goal for the campaign is exposure to the brand and engagement.
“I think ultimately it’s getting people exposed to our brand and getting them an opportunity to see what we’re like and who we are as people is the ultimate goal here.”
He recommends reading through the comments on the Abuela Approved TikTok content because of the many unique responses they get.
“It’s really funny to just see different points of relatability that our customers are having with Abuela, so really enjoy seeing that. To me, that’s the biggest win you can have as a brand marketer when you have people who are conversing about your brand in a dialogue that’s obviously positive about some of the things that you’re doing.”
Andy notes that this is the first time El Pollo Loco is focusing on a content series with one character. Previously, they’ve worked with other influencers and creators, but they are excited to see the results of continued content with one individual.
The Creator Economy
When asked about the biggest mistakes he sees in the creator economy, Andy notes that it’s when brands don’t think long-term about influencer marketing.
“I think that brands want to associate with influencers sometimes and just say we work with influencers, but I think ultimately you have to create a strategy, and you have to create touch points throughout the year that really make it make sense for your brand.”
He adds that the second part to this is authenticity. Sometimes brands have influencers talk about a product but never have the influencer come back and endorse the brand, which can make the endorsement feel inauthentic.
“When you’re deciding which influencers you want to represent the brand, I think someone who’s authentic who represents the core values of what you want to accomplish as a brand or as a company is paramount to success because the last thing you want to do is have somebody represent the brand who’s not authentic [or] who doesn’t represent the values [of the company.].”
Andy shares that he is excited to see El Pollo Loco evolve on their social media platforms.
“I think we’ve come a really long way over the course of the last year and a half. We’ve grown our follower base. We’ve grown engagement. I think there’s no secret that we’re not walking away from this strategy.”
He notes that they will continue evolving by studying what works for them, as well as their competitors and other brands that are successful in other industries.
“I think the biggest piece is we really are going to continue to see Abuela evolve on TikTok and would encourage you to continue to follow along on the journey.”