KFC announced it was invading El Pollo Loco’s turf with the introduction of Kentucky Grilled Chicken. They were going to spend over $40 million in media and more than a few million in production.
El Pollo Loco’s livelihood was square in their cross hairs.


We couldn’t compete with their media spend, but we had something better than money.

We had the best grilled chicken on the planet. One that was grilled over real flames. And we had a CEO and CMO that were willing to take the gloves off and go the distance. The agency proposed the Taste the Fire challenge.

We were going to challenge them to a head to head, or leg to leg competition.

Should they accept, we were prepared to have a publicized “grill off” in Dodger stadium or Kentucky, their choice. We would bring our 25 foot flame grills. They could bring their puny griddles.

We wrote the scripts and decided that Steve Carley would deliver the challenge. He was big enough and bold enough to scare the pants off of anybody.

We featured Steve in TV commercials challenging KFC to the taste test.

Steve asked KFC to call 1-800-EPL-STEVE and accept the challenge.

Then the marketing Gods didn’t just smile on us, they kissed us on the lips.

Two top KFC executives called 1-800-EPL-STEVE and left prank phone messages. They were identified by caller ID.

John wrote and edited viral videos responding to their calls that hit the internet within two hours. The response was totally loco.

KFC tried to combat our efforts by giving away a coupon for two free pieces of chicken. Except for one catch. Steve and Karen noticed it wasn’t honored on Mother’s Day.
John wrote another viral and YAHOO picked it up and we received over a 1 million hits. It was the most viewed video on YOU TUBE, that day.


During the massive million dollar launch of KGC,

KFC's market share actually dropped 5% and El Pollo Loco’s market share rose 6%.

That’s the power of agency and client teamwork.