Rubio's - To The Ocean

After 28 years, Rubio’s embarked on a complete brand overhaul, moving from a “fish taco joint” to a higher quality “coastal grill.” With a revitalized menu and enhanced in-store experience, we needed to elevate Rubio’s brand perception in the San Diego market.


Ralph Rubio introduced America to the Original Fish Taco™ in 1983 after being inspired by a surfing trip in Baja California. A lone restaurant soon expanded to three, and before long, San Diego’s best-kept secret was out. 200 locations and 200 million fish tacos later, the restaurant chain embarked on a complete brand overhaul, moving from a “fish taco joint” to a more elevated “coastal grill.” But there was a problem: Everyone still saw Rubio’s as a place to go for a cheap, belly-bomb fish taco.


To match the revitalized menu and revamped in-store experience, we needed to elevate Rubio’s brand perception. It was time to move away from the “buzzword bingo” and “bite-and-smile” advertising that flooded the fast-casual category, and establish a brand personality that would resonate with the San Diego market.


Rubio’s is deeply committed to the ocean, with sustainable seafood appearing across their menu, and beach cleanups and ocean restorations anchored in their annual calendar. Highlighting Rubio’s honest love for the ocean could create a new Rubio’s in people’s minds.


We created an ode to the ocean, raising a glass to the resource that sustains Rubio’s every day. And we did it with dignity and soul. This wasn't your typical fast-casual advertising. This was a heart-felt message that resonated with the entire San Diego community and provided a rallying cry for Rubio's internally.


The "To The Ocean" campaign improved brand perception noticeably in the San Diego market—specifically with increases in the areas of likeability (5.5%), relatability (8.2%), memorability (7.2%), and sharing common values (16.2%). Customers even found a new purpose for comment cards within the restaurant by actually thanking the Rubio's for its advertising. And most importantly, the restaurant's sales and transactions are up a significant amount year-over-year.

Creative Director + Copywriter: Pete Harvey

Art Director: Martina D'Alessandro

Executive Producer: Kacey Hart