Church’s Chicken CMO Hector Muñoz sat with the campaign name for about 30 minutes. “The light bulb went off,” he says. “It just started to feel right, and it made all the sense in the world.”

In what’s been a transformational year for the legacy brand, founded across from the Alamo in 1952, Muñoz has been searching for a platform to showcase Church’s reenergized personality. Within minutes, Munoz knew they had it.

Right before June, Church’s debuted new culinary creative around its limited-time Smokehouse Chicken launch. However, this was just the first installment of the campaign, designed to highlight a three-word phrase capturing the brand’s potential.

“Here’s The Deal.”

It’s not a splashy or complex marketing maneuver, but it’s one built from months of research and upward of 4,500 surveys with U.S. customers. Church’s talked to guests in the restaurant. They reached out through mediums when they were home. In the end, Muñoz, formerly the CMO at Popeyes who joined Church’s last March—the brand he got his start with in 1991—says guests were very clear about what they wanted and expected from the brand.

“What we learned most was that they want [quick-service] brands to be authentic and true to who they are,” he says.

[float_image image=”” width=”50″ link=”” caption=”Hectory Muñoz started his career with Church’s in 1991.” alt=”Church’s Chicken” align=”left” /]

And, in Church’s case, it meant offering choice, variety, an abundance of flavor, and value. “Quite frankly, they validated the fact that we do own a leadership position in value, and it’s something that we obviously take very, very seriously,” Muñoz adds.

“Here’s The Deal” is more than just a play on words that suggests Church’s has the best value for the money.

Muñoz explains why.

For starters, returning to the authenticity point, Muñoz says the phrase is an open invitation to customers.

“When someone says, ‘here’s the deal,’ they’re about to tell you something, a truth that maybe you weren’t quite prepared for but they’re letting you in on it,” he says. “So when our employees are doing that on camera, on the commercial, whether it’s our employees in the restaurants, our guests in the dining room, or chefs, they’re letting you in on a secret.”

Which is? “At Church’s, whatever your definition of value, we’ve got you covered,” Muñoz says.

The value aspect wasn’t a simple point. Muñoz says “Here’s The Deal” has legs because it can be attached to many different promotions, like The Smokehouse Chicken, which runs only $5 with a side and biscuit, and isn’t just another dollar-value sell.

“When people talk about value they immediately go to price point. And price is obviously a significant—a major component—of the overall value equation. But at Chruch’s it means a lot more than that,” he says. “It means the experience we’re going to provide at the restaurant, whether it’s friendly, fast, or accurate service. It’s accessibility to our product, whether it’s through traditional or non-traditional channels. But it’s also around choice that no other [quick-serve] can provide. It’s around variety that our consumers appreciate. And it’s about an abundance of flavor.”

As far as the message itself goes, Muñoz is rapidly changing how Church’s communicates with guests. Currently, almost 50 percent of its markets see traditional TV media. Another 30 percent use audio or radio. About 100 percent are reached through direct mail, and many deploy outdoor digital, like billboards.

Unlike Popeyes, which spoke to a national audience, Church’s is a regional brand that doesn’t ties itself into one sweeping message or price point, meaning it can be nimble with offerings varied by designated market areas and regions. In this case, “Here’s The Deal” is advertised traditionally at the local level while being touted nontraditionally in front of a national audience (through social channels). Overall, Muñoz sees a 70/30 split between traditional and nontraditional advertising working for Church’s in the future.

How it distributes, though, won’t matter, Muñoz says, if Church’s doesn’t drive the campaign around a strategic foundation. “It is all about the food,” he says. “It’s all about the people. It’s the deal, and it’s the truth. If we stay true to those components of this campaign, we think it’s got a lot of legs and can take us to place that, quite frankly, we haven’t even thought of us to this point.”

Muñoz also believes “Here’s The Deal” can be the type of marketing wave that builds over time as customers tune in to find out the latest answer.

“What are they going to tell us now? What are they going to let us in on? We think as this campaign continues to grow and gain momentum, there’s going to be a sense of anticipation from our consumers, from our guests wanting to know what’s next at Church’s,” he says.

With The Smokehouse Chicken, made with a spice rub and fried but not battered, Muñoz says the message, beside the $5 deal and massive portion (half a chicken), was to convey Church’s dedication to preparation.

“I really wanted our guests to walk away saying ‘Wow, I didn’t realize Church’s took the time and attention that they put into their food so seriously.’ I don’t think we’ve conveyed that to consumers in the past,” he says. “And given what I’ve seen during my first year here—the pride and the passion and the effort and the time the put in to innovation—I thought it was appropriate to start to get a little bit of credit for that effort from our consumers, but also give a nod to all the people behind the scenes that are doing all the great work.”

Marketing & Promotions, Story, Church's Chicken