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HEARD ON THE BEAT / RESTAURANTS

Wienerschnitzel Speaking Up, in Spanish

May 20, 1999|GREG HERNANDEZ

Newport Beach-based Wienerschnitzel is aggressively courting Spanish speakers through a series of radio ads slated to run through June. The fast-food chain began an 11-week campaign April 11 with 60-second spots airing on Spanish-language stations KLVE, KSCA and KLAX.

The radio spots are geared toward people "who speak primarily Spanish and are not necessarily privy to English-language advertising," said Sonia Gutierrez-Carstensen, a Latino communications specialist.

"We recognized that we basically had to introduce Wienerschnitzel to them," she added. "We had a few things going against us, starting with the name, which is hard to pronounce."

The April campaign featured 99-cent chili cheese dogs while 99-cent chili cheese nachos (a new menu item) are being promoted this month. In June, the promotion will focus on a hot dog toy, known as "the delicious one," which is designed to be affixed to a car antenna.

There are 135 Wienerschnitzel restaurants in Southern California, 30 of which are in Orange County, according to Doug Koegeboehn, who supervises advertising for the chain.

"So far, we've had double-digit sales increases and a lot of new [Latino] faces coming into the restaurants," Koegeboehn said.

Greg Hernandez covers the restaurant industry for The Times. He can be reached at (714) 966-5989 and at greg.hernandez@latimes.com.

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