2014 Winners

Experiential Engagement: SILVER

La Carnita


Our company wanted to create the ultimate self-promotion campaign. The main objective was to showcase the agency’s ability to set trends and create something out of nothing. While researching trends, and things, they discovered two key insights: Pop-up restaurants were poised to become very popular, and many of the best restaurants in North America had active but small social followings. And while researching agency self-promo campaigns, they discovered that nobody, at all, was selling food.

From there it was clear that we should create a pop-up taco restaurant with a devout social following. From there, we created La Carnita, a kitchen-less taco restaurant run by an ad agency. The main challenge with La Carnita was that legally, we weren’t actually allowed to sell food. Instead, we sold original art, and with each piece gave away 3 “free” tacos.

This promoted the brand, increased social reach, added an anti-establishment element, and drove cultural relevance – all integral to connecting with an urban-hipster-millennial-foodie target market, the perfect audience to engage with and amplify this unique experience. To make an impact with millennial social influencers, the campaign needed to look and feel genuine so the entire experience was given a street-level, grassroots feel including a graffiti-stenciled logo, loud 90s hip hop music and original art created by local artists.

This differentiated La Carnita from all other restaurants brands/campaigns at the time and to add to the ‘streetness’ of the project, they perpetuated the idea that La Carnita could be shut down at any moment. This was totally different to any other dining experience or brand in Toronto, and their trend-conscious audience gravitated toward it. At their original pop-up on July 7th 2011, they simply hoped a few people would show up. Minutes after their first tweet, a 150-person line formed and the tacos evapourated. From there they popped-up and sold-out 17 more times, totaling over 3,000 attendees.

Other results include:

  • 8K+ Twitter followers and trended 2x
  • 32M+ impressions (covered by The Star, CBC, National Post, Toronto Life, Marketing Mag, The Grid)
  • Named one of Canada’s Top 10 small businesses by The Globe and Mail
  • Featured in 40+ food & culture blogs
  • Hosted a final “pop-up” with 5000 guests (150% over projections)
  • Asked to cater events for musicians The National and Neko Case
    • This all led to a bigger result: La Carnita became so popular we had to open a physical restaurant. From opening until July 2013, the restaurant has averaged $52K/month ($30K, a successful benchmark, was the original goal) while serving 360+ patrons a night with a nearly constant 2-hour wait for tables. Further, the social campaign continued with the creation of one of Canada’s most popular restaurants on Instagram (3,845 follolwers at the time of writing). In the end, an ad agency’s self-promo campaign transformed into one of Canada’s busiest restaurants. And since, our company became synonymous with La Carnita while tripling our followers and bringing in over $2,000,000 of new business.


Client: La Carnita

Chief Creative Officer: Amin Todai

VP, Creative Director: Steve Miller

Design Director: Andrew Richmond

Art Director: Matt Webb

Copywriter: Max Sawka

Program Director: Patricia Tay

Project Manager: Josh Melfi

Have questions? Need help?
Contact Zoe Sherwood at 416-408-2300 x237 or zsherwood@brunico.com.