An advertisement for Subway's fat- and calorie-soaked cheesy garlic breach products. / Subway An advertisement for Subway's fat- and calorie-soaked cheesy garlic breach products. / Subway

Taco Bell Nearly Doubles Television Advertising Spend in January

Note: With advertising being such a large part of the restaurant business, Skift Table continues to look at the top spenders on television ads for the previous month across all sectors of the industry.

Not to beat a dead horse, but restaurant chains remain consistent in advertising during sports telecasts to attract new customers — especially football games.

In January, restaurant television ad spending throughout sporting contests also surprisingly included soccer, in the form of Mexico’s top-flight league, Liga MX, which began last month. Yet, the majority of brands’ budgets were earmarked for TV spots run during the NFL and college football playoffs, as each of those respective seasons came to a close.

Airing commercials during popular sitcoms and adult-oriented cartoons additionally remained a constant for brands last month. Meanwhile, award shows and more child-focused television also surpassed prominent game shows like “Wheel of Fortune” and seasonal holiday programming in December as popular shows to air paid ads.

Inside the Numbers

After a relatively quiet period for chains over the holiday season, brands like Taco Bell and McDonald’s cued up marketing blitzes to start the year. Each chain surpassed $50 million in TV ad spending last month, with Taco Bell outpacing rivals at $64 million. To put that in perspective, Domino’s outspent all other restaurant chains in December at $40 million. Taco Bell spent roughly $35 million over that period.

Overall, the top 10 in TV advertising spend by brand continues to be dominated by quick-service restaurants, which made up 50 percent of the list in January. Yum Brands, in particular — owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, and KFC — finds each of its subsidiaries in the top 10 for the third consecutive month.

Dine Brands subsidiaries Applebee’s and IHOP are next closest chains by restaurant group at 10 and 21, respectively, investing $30 million combined. Applebee’s also joins Olive Garden as the lone casual dining restaurants to crack the top 10 last month after no brands represented the sector in November.

Finally, on the tech front, third-party food deliver DoorDash made its debut to the TV advertising world in January, launching multiple commercials that touted its growing list of partnerships. Those efforts landed the company just outside the top 30 ad dollars spent, at just under $5 million. Grubhub, arguably DoorDash’s largest competitor, spent $7.8 million on TV ads itself last month.

Top Spending By Brands

BrandAiringsPrimetime AiringsEstimated SpendIndustry
Taco Bell16,1623.137$64,384,806Quick Serve
McDonald’s11,3861,759$52,648,945Quick Serve
Burger King19,9863,665$41,454,270Quick Serve
Subway6,7651,421$30,876,363Quick Serve
Wendy’s11,9702,242$27,641,601Quick Serve
Pizza Hut6,8631,299$24,569,543Pizza
Olive Garden9,9481,937$23,240,146Casual Dining
Applebee’s4,991757$22,471,797Casual Dining
KFC6,4501,197$17,538,636Quick Serve

Information is provided by TV advertising attention analytics company

Most-Run Ads by Brand

Below are the top advertisements run by each brand in the top five of TV ad dollars spent in January 2019. along with a list of the most popular programs and networks chosen by chains for airtime.

1. Taco Bell

Top Ad: Grande Fantasy

Top ProgramTop Network
NFL FootballESPN
NBA BasketballFOX
CFP National ChampionshipCBS
Rose BowlABC
South ParkComedy Central

2. McDonald’s

Top Ad: Touchdown Dance

Top ProgramTop Network
NFL FootballFOX
NBA BasketballCBS
SpongeBob SquarePantsNBC
76th Annual Golden GlobesABC
Total Drama IslandNickelodeon

3. Domino’s Pizza

Top Ad: Pizza Night Hero

Top ProgramTop Network
NFL FootballFOX
NBA BasketballCBS
The Big Bang TheoryESPN
Family GuyTBS
College BasketballNBC

4. Burger King

Top Ad: Make Your Best Pick

Top ProgramTop Network
NFL FootballFOX
NBA BasketballESPN
The Big Bang TheoryTBS
South ParkTNT
Family GuyComedy Central

5. Subway

Top Ad: Happy Place

Top ProgramTop Network
NFL FootballNBC
NBA BasketballFOX
College BasketballCBS
NHL HockeyUnivision
Futbol Mexicano Primera DivisionABC

Information is provided by TV advertising attention analytics company

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