'Could This Year Get Any Better?' Cafe Rio Asks in Hilarious Covid Ads

Carne asada fixes everything in Funworks campaign

Can life in quarantine get any better? Not for this carne asada-lovin' family!

Actor and comedian Regan Burns (How I Met Your Mother, Supernatural) delivers the funny along with his real-life wife and teenage kids in a pitch-perfect campaign that skewers the new normal while touting the return of carne asada at fast-casual chain Cafe Rio.

Developed by Funworks and shot at the Burns' Los Angeles home, this is lockdown humor at its spicy best. Savor the :60 below, as the family orders the dish through a restaurant-style plexiglass divider set up on their kitchen table, packs carne asada in lunch bags for the youngsters' day at homeschool, and stages a backyard graduation ceremony for one ("highest GPA of any kid up there," Dad brags).

Carne Asada is back. Could this year get any better?

The concept sprang from a virtual workshop Funworks held with Cafe Rio execs and some of the restaurant's customers.

"There was an idea about harkening back to when carne asada originally launched in January," recalls agency co-founder and creative chief Craig Mangan. "There was a consensus of what a great time that was—January. That made all of us ask ourselves, 'What if carne asada made this year more tolerable, or even the best year ever?' "

Once they settled on that theme, the team auditioned several families and knew they'd hit paydirt with the Burns clan.

"It was such a relief when we saw Regan's audition, and we were even more amazed that his wife and children, who hadn't done this before, were great actors as well," says Mangan. "They were all hilarious and having a blast with one another. They have incredible chemistry, especially for a family that is quarantined together."

A bare-bones crew from production house Superfriends shot a dozen scenarios in 10 hours to create the minute-long anthem and several bite-sized clips, which you can check out on YouTube.

"We knew we needed to be sensitive and empathetic," Mangan says. "Some brands get confused that those two things need to have a serious tone. But one of the best ways to connect and be truly empathetic to someone's situation is to make light of it."

"The thought that the return of carne asada could suddenly outshine everything that is 2020 is so ludicrous that people feel in on the joke," he says. "And because of that, they feel understood."


Client: Cafe Rio Mexican Grill
Campaign: Best News of the Year

Agency: Funworks
CCO: Craig Mangan
Copywriter: Ray Hobbs
Art Director: Brian Fink
Account Director: Claire Crozier
Account Manager: Jodi Naglie
Assistant Account Manager: Shelby Kennedy
Producer: Ashley Henderson

Prod Co: Superfriends
Producer: Elizabeth Simler

Editorial: The Den Editorial
Editor: Andrew Ratzlaff
Executive Producer: Mary Ellen Duggan

Color/Finish: The Mission Studio
Colorist: Gizmo Rivera
Producer: Jessica Locke, Ryan Meredith

Sound Mix: Swell Music & Sound
Sound Engineer: Elad Marish
Producer: Marc Mannino

Music Co: Swell Music & Sound
Song: "Zamba De La Despedida"
Composer: Horacio Valdivieso

Music Co: Marmoset
Song: "Kaljinka"
Composer: Shazalakazoo, Milan Djuric, Uros Petkovic

Music Co: Storyblocks
Song: "Durango Bazar"
Composer: Claudio Ottaviano, Renato Podesta, Jacopo Delfini

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