Marketing chief Hector Munoz is taking on another chicken challenge. El Pollo Loco, which has more than 480 units, tapped the former Church’s Chicken and Popeyes exec to its CMO role, the company announced Tuesday. He replaces Ed Valle, who stepped down in June.
Munoz started with Church’s in 1991 and assumed CMO duties at Popeyes in 2014. He then returned to Church’s March 2017, where he served as EVP and global CMO, leading all global marketing efforts for Church’s and its international Texas Chicken brand. During Munoz’s time at Church’s, the chain recorded five consecutive quarters of positive global same-store sales—the best performance for the company in more than 10 years. He helped direct the brand’s new “Here’s the Deal” campaign.
He’ll likely be authoring a fresh vision for El Pollo Loco as well. The brand reported systemwide same-store sales gains of 2.6 percent in the third quarter. Bernard Acoca, president and chief executive officer, said in November that a significant brand relaunch was scheduled for early 2019. Acoca joined the chain this past March after serving as president of Starbucks’ Teavana brand. A new logo was unveiled in March as well, one of the most significant visual changes in nearly 40 years. Read more about the new direction in the link below.
As CMO of its U.S. business, Munoz helped Popeyes achieve 24 consecutive quarters of positive same-store sales heading into the brand’s March 2017 $1.8 billion merger with Burger King and Tim Hortons parent Restaurant Brands International. He also worked as VP of global brand image and new concept strategy for Burger King Corporation, where he held multiple positions over a 12-year period, and helmed marketing and advertising leadership roles for Long John Silver’s, Bruegger’s Bagels, and Bozell Worldwide.
“I am joining the El Pollo Loco family during an exciting time and look forward to working closely with both company and franchisee teams to further elevate the brand and its marketing initiatives to deepen the relationships El Pollo Loco has with its customers,” Muñoz said in a statement. “Growing up in the restaurant industry from a young age afforded me the experience and opportunity to truly understand restaurant operations from the ground floor, and as such, it is an honor to join El Pollo Loco to support their people-first mission and culture.”
Munoz will oversee all marketing and brand strategy functions, including menu and product development, advertising and public relations, digital and social media and consumer engagement.
“It is a great pleasure to announce the appointment of Hector Muñoz, a talented marketing executive with a proven track record of driving brands and an inspirational role model and leader within the field,” Acoca added. “As we continue to strengthen our Leadership team, Hector’s significant industry experience and knowledge, paired with his strong leadership skills, will be instrumental as we elevate our marketing to grow the love our customers have for the El Pollo loco brand.”
The move comes on the heels of El Pollo Loco’s August hiring of Jennifer Jaffe as its first chief people officer. Jaffe came to El Pollo Loco from Estée Lauder, where she led the human resources function for Too Faced Cosmetics and oversaw the company’s acquisition by Estée Lauder in 2016.