WINNERS! BXP Magazine Annual Makeover Challenge

Submitted by  

Linda Casey  – 10/02/2018


“I like to learn who my client is,” Hector Garcia, founder and brand guardian of MBN Creative, says. “Every client is unique in how they communicate. Although USAopoly provided a great creative brief that I did a deep dive into, I still wanted to start a dialogue. So we stayed close and true to their creative brief initially, but we provided a couple of options.”

An approach appreciated by Tina Harrison, marketing coordinator for USAopoly. “MBN providing such a diverse group of designs from the start was really inspiring for us internally, but also gave them the opportunity to really hone in on what we were looking for,” she remarks.


Jackie Miserany, marketing manager at USAopoly adds, “MBN did a really good job of pushing the design while staying true to our vision. They listened to our feedback when we said there were certain character, color schemes and elements that we wanted to make sure we maintained within the package as part of our brand identity.”

Arlo Hitzemann, creative services brand manager for USAopoly, says, “Both teams took our feedback and implemented the changes spot on. I think MBN came in with more of a step-by-step process.”

MBN’s approach was pragmatic and inspirational. The team took a risk by introducing concepts that fell within the USAopoly’s creative brief guidelines and challenged them.  “There were some that were completely off brand,” Bridgette Reuther, creative services director at USAopoly, explains, “and some that were extremely on brand. Seeing the gamut helped us as a team narrow down the approach.”


The agency also added a prototyping step, early in the process, to review concepts. “What was a nice bonus,” Hitzemann remarks, “is that they sent us a physical mock up to check out and really see how the execution with the windows would work.”

Receiving a mock-up early in the process had multiple benefits, Tony Serebriany, director of new product development at USAopoly, explains. “Seeing a physical mock-up also influenced some design feedback because we were able to recognize and fix a problem with the logo,” he notes. “Seeing a flat image on paper versus a physical package is so different. Your perception is different. How the design interacts with the lighting is different.”


The prototype was especially important as the final concept has functional and innovative enhancements. “One of our team members had a phenomenal idea to create a sheet that goes directly underneath the box cover that would take advantage of die cuts on our cover concept,” Garcia explains. “The sheet has multiple illustrations on it, and it could be position in any of four ways. Each position shows a different image through the sketchpad die cut.”  This adds visual depth to the packaging and offers product variation without adversely impacting pack-out times or retailers’ merchandising processes.

USAopoly stressed the value of Telestrations’ Mr. Sketchy character in the creative brief, and MBN honored that. The agency noted that Telestrations was a party game though, so MBN gave Mr. Sketchy a family to quickly communicate the idea of a party game to shoppers.

MBN’s approach was pragmatic and inspirational. The team took a risk by introducing concepts that fell within the USAopoly’s creative brief guidelines and challenged them.
— Linda Casey

MBN also kept the dry-erase sketch pads used in the game, but updated the illustrations and primary color to have a more modern feel. Another improvement beyond the package design was the inclusion of a secret word envelope in the sketchpads that prevents players from accidentally seeing the “secret word” during game play.


Finally, the firm wanted to celebrate the 10-year anniversary and the charitable mission with an upscale treatment. Removable gold foil stickers celebrate both, and still lets retailers use the stock in 2020 and beyond.

“We knew it had to be special,” Garcia says. “Gold foil is something that would stand out. It would catch your eye when you walked by, and the light would shine on it.”

The charitable aspect of the project is as important to MBN as it is to USAopoly and Operation Smile. “We don’t wave a charity flag, but it’s important to us,” Garcia remarks. “It’s part of our culture to jump into action when we see a need.”

While the charitable part of the project is valued, Garcia’s favorite part of the project was the collaboration itself. “I just loved the experience,” he remarks. “USAopoly was collaborative. They were honest. They were open. I was open. I was honest. It was perfect.”


MBN Creative Featured in Orange County Register


MBN Creative and El Pollo Loco team up to release the famous Pollo Bowl® into supermarkets.

After years of avoiding entry into the supermarket arena – where profit margins are razor thin – El Pollo Loco is spreading its wings into retail.

The Costa Mesa-based chicken chain has created a frozen version of  its Pollo Bowl, which is now being sold in roughly 100 Costco warehouses   in Southern California. It is also stocked in 600 supermarkets,  including Ralphs, Food 4 Less and Smart & Final.

“We see a real opportunity because there’s no real high quality  Mexican brand in the frozen food sector, said Joe Stein, El Pollo  Loco’s senior vice president of strategy and innovation.

The move comes as El Pollo Loco looks for new ways to make money and increase brand awareness. Earlier this month, the chain launched steak – one of several new foods El Pollo Loco plans to add to its menu this year.

Stein said El Pollo Loco has spent two years investigating how to bring the right product to market.

It had to be something portable and easy to recreate, he added.

The chain eventually came up with a frozen version of its Pollo Bowl and pitched the idea to Costco. The chain tested it in San Diego  warehouses last fall and found that it sold well.

Over the holidays, the product expanded to 100 warehouses in Southern   California, including Orange County. The Costco item is sold for $13.99  and includes six, 16 oz. Pollo Bowls.  The bowls sold in supermarkets  are different in size and ingredients.

The grocery stores sell a 4-pack of 12-oz. bowls, that contain the  exact same ingredients sold at the restaurants. Cost: $8.99-$9.99,  depending on the store.

The Costco bowls offer cheese, which is not a regular topping on  bowls served at restaurants. Stein said Costco insisted on adding cheese   because the warehouse chain thought the bowls would sell better.


Research shows that El Pollo Loco is entering the frozen food sector at the right time. With consumers  cutting back on dining, more are  turning to convenient frozen items to eat at home or at the office,  according to market research firm Packaged Facts.

Local restaurant chains that have entered the frozen food market over the past few years include Newport Beach-based Ruby’s Diner, Irvine-based Yard House and Cypress-based Real Mex Restaurants. The latter is the parent company of El Torito, El Torito Grill, Acapulco and Chevys restaurants.

For years, Marie Callender’s has also offered a large line of foods  in supermarkets. Over a five-year period between 2008 and 2013, frozen  food sales are forecast to grow 25 percent to $64.8 billion, Packaged  Facts said in a 2009 report. El Pollo Loco is taking advantage of that demand.

Stein said the bowls, so far, are exceeding expectations with more  than $4 million in sales. The chain is working with other grocery  chains, and it expects the bowls to be in 1,000 stores relatively soon.

As for new retail products, Stein said he’s looking at the  possibility of bottling and selling the chain’s avocado salsa and creamy   cilantro dressing.  The chain is also investigating the possibility of   selling pre-marinated chicken for barbecuing and or selling the  company’s famous citrus-marinade separately.

“If we do it right, this could generate profits in the multi-million dollar (range) in the next two years.”

And the Orange County Business Journal Nominee is . .

MBN Creative’s one and only Hector Garcia was nominated for the 2011 Orange County Business Journal Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award!   It’s been a long 13 years since Hector opened MBN Creative and it is a great honor that he be recognized for his grand achievements, the MBN Team is very proud of him and we have no doubt that he will continue on with even greater successes.

Article by Richard Franzi 
   Original Article        

Article by Richard Franzi

Original Article



IRVINE, Calif.  Critical Mass for Business is proud to announce the nomination of one of their members, Hector Garcia of MBN Creative, Inc. for the prestigious 2011 Orange County Business Journal Excellence in Entrepreneurship Award.

“Hector has been an important part of our monthly CEO Peer Groups, helping all our members to make better decisions,” stated Critical Mass for Business Co-Owner Ric Franzi. “He embodies all the characteristics of a successful entrepreneur, particularly his ability to build a team of creative minds at MBN Creative.”

As Co-Owner Doug Gfeller (a Certified Master Coach for Businesses) added, “Having worked with Hector now for the last 6 years, we can certainly see why he was selected given his ability to create a brand think-tank which is always at the ready to serve his clients’ needs.”

Hector founded his firm more than 10 years ago and with 20 years of design experience he’s built a remarkable team with the perfect blend of talent and experience. “It’s an honor to be nominated for this award of excellence. My gratitude goes to Critical Mass for Business, My Coaches and Peer Group members for helping me define my business path toward greatness”.

About MBN creative, Inc.

MBN Creative Specializes in Brand Development, Brand Refresh and Package Design for national and multi-national accounts as well as fortune 100 companies. We’ve partnered in developing successful branding solutions for many Household Names such as City of Hope, El Pollo Loco, El Torito, Golden Spoon and Hi-Liter to name a few.
“You may not know us, But you’ve seen us”       – check us out at

About Critical Mass for Business

Critical Mass for Business is the fastest-growing organizer and facilitator for business advisory groups in Orange County and a noted business coaching company with over 17 years of experience. They lead CEO Peer Groups and provide Executive Coaching for many of the County’s most successful firms. Learn more at



Richard is the author of two books: CRITICAL MASS: The 10 Explosive 
Powers of CEO Peer Groups and CRITICAL MASS: The Power of CEO Guiding 
Principles. He hosts business talk show on He is a 
sought after speaker on topics of interests to CEOs and business owners 
of mid-market companies.   

Richard is the author of two books: CRITICAL MASS: The 10 Explosive Powers of CEO Peer Groups and CRITICAL MASS: The Power of CEO Guiding Principles. He hosts business talk show on He is a sought after speaker on topics of interests to CEOs and business owners of mid-market companies.


Hector García Hits the Airwaves!


MBN Creative’s President, Hector Garcia, was “pleasantly ambushed” for a surprise radio interview on March 23rd. Michelle Patterson from Event Complete and Paul Roberts from OC Talk Radio speak with Hector about the creative design process, how his team takes an idea and develops it to a finished product. During the show they take a look at how MBN Creative has partnered with national companies in developing successful branding solutions for household names such as City of Hope, El Pollo Loco, El Torito, Golden Spoon and Hi-Liter to name a few.

MBN will be partnering up with CEO Michelle Patterson from Event Complete, who has been the visionary and creator behind the multitude of successful events and national workshops.  Michelle Patterson was congratulated by CEO Andrew Mason of Groupon on Event Complete’s all time Groupon record for their Capturing True Emotion workshop.

“We want to give a special Thank You to Michelle Patterson and Event Complete for putting together this radio interview.  We expect fruitful outcomes with the partnership between MBN and Event Complete.” -Hector Garcia

Listen to the interview here!