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Taco Bell Nearly Doubles Television Advertising Spend in January

Danni Santana
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

Brand Airings Primetime Airings Estimated Spend Industry
Taco Bell 16,162 3.137 $64,384,806 Quick Serve
McDonald’s 11,386 1,759 $52,648,945 Quick Serve
Domino’s 23,242 5,431 $43,939,546 Pizza
Burger King 19,986 3,665 $41,454,270 Quick Serve
Subway 6,765 1,421 $30,876,363 Quick Serve
Wendy’s 11,970 2,242 $27,641,601 Quick Serve
Pizza Hut 6,863 1,299 $24,569,543 Pizza
Olive Garden 9,948 1,937 $23,240,146 Casual Dining
Applebee’s 4,991 757 $22,471,797 Casual Dining
KFC 6,450 1,197 $17,538,636 Quick Serve

Information is provided by TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv.

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 Program Top Network
NFL Football ESPN
NBA Basketball FOX
CFP National Championship CBS
Rose Bowl ABC
South Park Comedy Central

2. McDonald’s

Top Ad: Touchdown Dance

Top Program Top Network
NFL Football FOX
NBA Basketball CBS
SpongeBob SquarePants NBC
76th Annual Golden Globes ABC
Total Drama Island Nickelodeon

3. Domino’s Pizza

Top Ad: Pizza Night Hero

Top Program Top Network
NFL Football FOX
NBA Basketball CBS
The Big Bang Theory ESPN
Family Guy TBS
College Basketball NBC

4. Burger King

Top Ad: Make Your Best Pick

Top Program Top Network
NFL Football FOX
NBA Basketball ESPN
The Big Bang Theory TBS
South Park TNT
Family Guy Comedy Central

5. Subway

Top Ad: Happy Place

Top Program Top Network
NFL Football NBC
NBA Basketball FOX
College Basketball CBS
NHL Hockey Univision
Futbol Mexicano Primera Division ABC

Information is provided by TV advertising attention analytics company iSpot.tv.

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