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HEARD ON THE BEAT / RESTAURANTS

For Fun Touch, Del Taco Hires WongDoody

May 20, 1999|GREG HERNANDEZ

Speaking of fast-food advertising, Laguna Hills-based Del Taco Inc. is also looking for a new approach and has hired a new ad agency.

WongDoody, which has offices in Los Angeles and Seattle, was signed in early May after competing for the contract with three other finalists. It replaces Los Angeles-based Italia/Gal, which chose not to compete for a new contract. Italia had the account for seven years.

WongDoody "really demonstrated a good understanding of our brand," said Annette Shehan, vice president of marketing for Del Taco. "We want to have some fun with Del Taco and they understood that assignment."

Del Taco has 340 stores in 10 states, a majority of which are in California. The chain is planning to open 14 new locations in Arizona by the end of the year, the first of which opened May 13. Their biggest competitor is Irvine-based Taco Bell, which has about 5,600 stores.

"We really want to put a face on our brand," Shehan said. "When you're No. 2, you really need to stand for something and there are a lot of things that Del Taco does really well."

Financial terms of the new deal were not disclosed, but Del Taco spends about $10 million a year on advertising.

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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