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Uber Eats Gets Bang For Its Advertising Buck During the NCAA Tournament

Danni Santana
Uber Eats Gets Bang For Its Advertising Buck During the NCAA Tournament

Note: Advertising strategy is an important part of the restaurant business. Skift Table continues to look at the top spenders on television ads for the previous month across the industry.

Restaurant brands and delivery companies knew exactly where to put their television advertising dollars in March: the NCAA men’s basketball tournament.

With the tourney heading into its final weekend, chains and third parties have shelled out more than $700 million for ads run during March Madness telecasts to date, according to iSpot.tv.

In particular, creative materials by Buffalo Wild Wings, Taco Bell, Domino’s, and Uber Eats have been hard to miss for basketball fans. Yet some chains, such as Burger King and McDonald’s, chose to stay clear of competitors last month, opting instead to advertise during NBA basketball games and popular TV shows.

Inside the Numbers

While Domino’s and Taco Bell earmarked tens of millions of dollars in March towards ads that generated more than 3.3 billion total impressions for each, Uber Eats and Buffalo Wild Wings arguably got more bang for their buck, with both brands heavily targeting males between 35 to 54 years old.

March (specifically March Madness) marked Uber Eats’ first national TV campaign, and followed DoorDash’s introduction to mainstream TV advertising in January. The food delivery service outspent all of its U.S. rivals last month, spending roughly $9 million. Uber Eats also garnered over 228 million impressions on just 60 broadcast airings, 28 of which were on primetime. Grubhub and DoorDash spent $6 million and $3 million, respectively, on TV advertising over the period. 

“We were excited to engage fans and customers across the country by partnering with the NCAA as the official food delivery partner this year,” Uber Eats said in an emailed statement.

As for Buffalo Wild Wings, the chain successfully returned the casual dining sector back into the top 10 of advertising dollars spent in March; marketing itself as a safe haven for men fresh off vasectomies to recover while watching college basketball. Any game decided in overtime also resulted in at least $725,000 in media exposure for the brand, according to Bloomberg, due to creative material created by the Inspire Brands subsidiary for the occasion.

Overall, Taco Bell took the top spot in March with $46 million spent on TV marketing, a 22 percent increase over February. Last month’s top spender McDonald’s, along with Domino’s, Burger King, and Wendy’s, rounded out the top five.

Top Spending By Brands

Brand Airings Primetime Airings Estimated Spend Industry
Taco Bell 14508 2925 $46,275,531 Quick Serve
McDonald’s 9245 1376 $39,693,723 Quick Serve
Domino’s 23121 5239 $34,261,381 Pizza
Burger King 21247 3570 $30,641,709 Quick Serve
Wendy’s 9635 1753 $26,096,014 Quick Serve
Sonic Drive-In 16485 2701 $22,692,212 Quick Serve
Pizza Hut 7651 1409 $22,166,071 Pizza
Buffalo Wild Wings 1567 324 $20,683,122 Casual Dining
Subway 7401 1438 $20,619,062 Quick Serve
KFC 8130 1359 $18,345,538 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 March 2019, along with a list of the most popular programs and networks chosen by chains for airtime.

1. Taco Bell

Top ad: Be Warned

Top Networks Top Shows
CBS 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament
TBS College Basketball
FOX NBA Basketball
ABC The Walking Dead
TNT South Park

2. McDonald’s

Top ad: Act of Kindness

Top Networks Top Shows
ABC NBA Basketball
NBC The Walking Dead
Nick SpongeBob SquarePants
CBS American Idol
ESPN World of Dance

3. Domino’s

Top ad: Points for Pies

Top Networks Top Shows
CBS 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament
TBS SportsCenter
FOX American Idol
ABC College Basketball
NBC Family Guy

4. Burger King

Top ad: Turning up the Heat

Top Networks Top Shows
Adult Swim NBA Basketball
Comedy Central The Walking Dead
ESPN South Park
MTV Ridiculousness
AMC Family Guy

5. Wendy’s

Top ad: Everything

Top Networks Top Shows
CBS 2019 NCAA Basketball Tournament
ESPN College Basketball
TBS NBA Basketball
ABC The Walking Dead
TNT NCAA Tip-Off

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

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