When it comes to experiential marketing, there’s one place where brands shine—the not-so-little-anymore brand-a-palooza called South by Southwest. And AMC’s Better Call Saul activation is one of the best, most detail-oriented conceptual executions you’ll find.
On this first weekend of SXSW Interactive, passersby arriving at 122 W. 5th Street (on the corner of 5th and Colorado) will find a peculiar and oddly delightful sight—a full-scale replica of Los Pollos Hermanos. The pop-up version of the infamous chicken chain, known for the super-shady dealings made within its walls on AMC’s Breaking Bad, heralds the upcoming appearance of the chain’s owner, Gus Fring (played by Giancarlo Esposito), in season 3 of the prequel series, Better Call Saul.
Complete with a sign-wielding chicken mascot, the beat-up Suzuki Esteem driven by Jimmy (played by Bob Odenkirk), perfectly detailed signage and building facade, the comically earnest pop-up restaurant’s humble footprint is dwarfed by the Austin skyline. Fans, as well as curious people who just wanted a quick snack, queued up outside Friday.
Upon entering, customers are greeted by employees in complete Los Pollos attire, and guided to a counter to receive complimentary curly fries. The menu item is featured specifically in a recent spoof ad, in which Fring tells viewers, “Come in and try our new curly fries. We are so sure you’ll like them. And if you don’t—they’re on me.”
The restaurant was built from scratch in three days and borrows props from the show—gumball machines, the clock and Jimmy’s car.
Another fun detail is the #LPHisHiring hashtag, which customers can use to “apply” for a job (which is actually a contest entry to an exclusive autograph signing with Odenkirk and Esposito to close out the activation on Sunday evening).
Asked if the fictional chain could ever see permanent life as a real-life restaurant, Linda Schupack, AMC and Sundance TV’s evp of marketing, told Adweek, “There are all sorts of opportunities with Los Pollos Hermanos, and as far as an actual chain of Los Pollos Hermanos, never say never.”
Take a look at the video above, and “Taste the Family.”
Season 3 of Better Call Saul premiers April 10 on AMC. The SXSW activation runs through Sunday, where it will disappear forever into the night.