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Funworks Enlists Fans to Bring the Sizzle For Cafe Rio Mexican Grill

Creative 100 Add to collection

Campaign launches new fajitas with a touch of the absurd and a little help from a few intensely enthusiastic fans

Funworks Enlists Fans to Bring the Sizzle For Cafe Rio Mexican Grill

People really, really love Cafe Rio. But for fans of the Mexican fast-casual favorite, that love tends to manifest in some unusual ways. Still, Cafe Rio wanted to show some appreciation to their community, so they enlisted a few fans (and their tweets) to help demonstrate how intense (and surreal) that fandom can really get. The result is 'The Obsession Is Real', a campaign from creative agency Funworks that not only launches Cafe Rio’s new fajitas but gives the popular chain a new, more unpredictable creative direction. 

“Cafe Rio has evangelists – people really freak out about the brand,” explains Funworks CCO Craig Mangan. “So much so that Cafe Rio usually opts to do very little marketing. But we saw an opportunity to tap into that obsession to help lift the brand beyond where they’ve been.”

With this goal, Funworks updated the restaurant’s brand guidelines and created a series of 30 and 15-second spots that put the fandom and their unique sense of humor front and center. In 'Sizzle', the Cafe Rio pitchman introduces the new fajitas with a quirky aural delivery that will make ASMR fans jump for joy. Meanwhile, 'Obsessed' goes straight to the fans, featuring real tweets about how far Rio-lovers will go for their favorite cafe – including bathing in a tub filled with queso. From there, things only get weirder.

Like many of Funworks’ projects, the campaign was conceptualized in one of their Funworkshops, the agency’s improv-inspired process that champions open conversation and collaboration toward quickly generating engaging concepts, strategies and content. This time, however, they added a twist. The agency specifically brought fans of Cafe Rio into the session, illuminating the depth of their love for the brand. In the end, these conversations got Cafe Rio leadership comfortable with a new direction for the brand.

“The output is the best measure of a good process,” stated Cafe Rio chief concept officer Todd Smith. “We love both the brand tone and the creative that Funworks developed. The workshop, and creative work that followed, brought our fan obsession to life in a fun way. We’re all proud of the work.”

While off to a great start, 'The Obsession Is Real' marks only the beginning of the collaboration – one which all parties hope will continue in the same spirit of exploration and fun. 

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Post Production / VFX

Colourist: William Smith

Producer: Sara Benedict

Production Company

Director: Sam Molleur

DOP: Paul DeLumen

Executive Producer: Jason Berger, Amy Laslett

Producer: Sarah Dignan, Doug Bilitch

Production Company: Kids At Play


Composer: Eric Meyers, Alec Puro

Music : Gramoscope


Edit Company: Kids At Play

Editor: Drew Unser

Creative Agency

Account Director: Claire Crozier

Account Manager: Jodi Naglie

Art Director: Maggie Bradshaw, Tanny Tan

Copywriter: Kevin Turner

Creative Agency: Funworks

Creative Director: Craig Mangan

Genres: People, Comedy

Categories: Food, Restaurant

Lore, Fri, 14 Jun 2019 09:24:55 GMT