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FAST FOOD ADVERTISING. Fast Food Industry History. Quickly prepared food from small stalls and limited-seating restaurants dates back to ancient times White Castle, established in 1921, is considered to be the first fast food chain

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Fast food industry history
Fast Food Industry History

  • Quickly prepared food from small stalls and limited-seating restaurants dates back to ancient times

  • White Castle, established in 1921, is considered to be the first fast food chain

  • McDonald’s introduction of the "Speedee Service System" in 1948 established modern principles of the fast food restaurant

  • Wendy's, founded in 1972, is credited with pioneering the use of the "drive-thru"

Industry sales
Industry Sales

  • U.S. consumers spent about $110 billion on fast food in 2000

    (up from $6 billion in 1970)

  • The National Restaurant Association forecasts that fast food restaurants in the U.S. will reach $142 billion in sales in 2006

    (5% increase over 2005)

Major fast food competitors in order of annual sales
Major Fast Food Competitors (in order of annual sales):

  • McDonald’s: $24.3 billion

  • Wendy’s: $7.7 billion

  • Burger King: $7.7 billion

  • Subway: $6.3 billion

  • Taco Bell: $5.7 billion

  • Pizza Hut: $5.2 billion

  • KFC: $5.0 billion

  • Arby’s: $2.8 billion

  • Sonic: $2.7 billion

  • Jack in the Box: $2.5 billion

Advertising expenditures
Advertising Expenditures:

  • Approximately $4 billion spent by fast food restaurant industry annually

  • Ad venues consist of TV, print, outdoor billboard, and radio media

  • 95% of US fast food restaurant advertising budgets are allocated to television

  • McDonald’s is the top fast food advertising spender (18th largest ad spender of all U.S. brands), followed by Burger King and Wendy’s (67th and 78th respectively)

Fast food advertising
Fast Food Advertising

Amid criticism and controversy over the nutritional value of their products, fast food advertising attempts to appeal to latent but powerful human desires and needs

Fast food advertising target audiences
Fast Food AdvertisingTarget Audiences

General demographic focus of ads:

  • Children

  • Adolescents / Teens

  • Adults 20s-30s

    Various techniques and appeals are employed based on the target audience of the particular advertisement

Taking aim at the child target
Taking Aim at the Child Target

Fast food ads utilize varied methods to attract the attention and manipulate the desires of children

  • Ronald McDonaldis recognized by nearly 96% of American children

  • A child's first request for a product typically occurs at about 24 months of age

  • Ad agencies acknowledge that toddlers and preschool children have considerable purchase influence through “nag factor”, and are openly targeting these age groups in fast food ads

  • Advertisers deliberately begin building lifetime brand recognition, brand preference and brand loyalty with toddlers

Advertising tactics targeting the child market
Advertising Tactics Targeting the Child Market:

  • Ads aimed at children often employ powerful tie-ins to popular children’s movies and television programs

  • Character-based packaging and free toy offers encourage children to pursue the product

  • Vivid colors, theme music, and brand characters are used in formats that often mimic children’s programming

  • Addressing the base need for aesthetic sensations is often the focus of ads targeting children, associating the brand image with exciting audio-visual stimulation

Example pizza hut cheesy bites pizza
Example: Pizza Hut “Cheesy Bites Pizza”

Target Audience: Toddlers – Young teens

• The commercial features 3 young teen boys sitting at a pizza parlor. Indicating that this commercial best fit for younger audiences.

Style: Humor

• Miss Piggy is the main character in this commercial. She is imitating Jessica Simpson’s previous ad for Pizza Hut.

• The 3 boys at the restaurant table deflects the pizza that was tossed over by Miss Piggy. In a previous commercial with Jessica Simpson, she tossed the pizza bites right into their mouths.

• Miss Piggy is part of the very popular Muppet show and is recognizable by people of all ages.

Conclusion: This is a youthful commercial with a blend of upbeat music and a celebrity most children can recognize.

Basic appeals

Basic Appeals

Need for sex: This is a pre-teen commercial which features Miss Piggy, but it also pararells the Jessica Simpson commercial. Children will compare the two commercials and also see the sex appeal of Jessica Simpson in the other ad. Hence, the pre-teens are getting a taste of what advertisers have in store for them in the future.

Need for Aesthetic sensation: The kids are in a dimly lit pizza parlor, and Miss Piggy’s bright red dress is the main focus of the ad. The sound of little pizza bites being shot from across the room is impossible in real life, but in this commercial it greatly appeals to children’s imaginations.

Style: Humor • Miss Piggy is the main character in this commercial. She is imitating Jessica Simpson’s previous ad for Pizza Hut. • The 3 boys at the restaurant table deflects the pizza that was tossed over by Miss Piggy. In a previous commercial with Jessica Simpson, she tossed the pizza bites right into their mouths.

Style: Use of Celebrity• Miss Piggy is part of the very popular Muppet show and is recognizable by people of all ages.

The adolescent teen target
The Adolescent / Teen Target

Teen-focused fast food advertising emphasizes characteristics that youth aspire to:

  • Being popular

  • Being attractive/sexy

  • Being cool

  • Standing out in a crowd

  • Attracting attention

    The ads target these and other qualities important

    to adolescents

Advertising tactics targeting the adolescent teen market
Advertising Tactics Targeting the Adolescent / Teen Market:

  • Addressing the need for affiliation

    Teen-focused ads frequently portray groups of friends, sporting teams, and other group activities

  • Capitalizing on the popularity of current fads, styles and trends

    Many ads are based on popular trends in music, fashion, and language; celebrities are often used, and are appearing more frequently

  • Appealing to the need for sex

    The use of sexual themes in fast food ads aimed at the adolescent market is on the increase

  • Ad description: The ad features heiress Paris Hilton in a chic black bathing suit sudsing up a Bentley. She breaks from her hard work to take a bite of a perfect Carl’s Jr. burger. Playing on a catch phrase coined by the heiress, the commercial ends with the tag line “That’s Hot”.

  • Target audience: Shown during Desperate Housewives, The O.C. and The Apprentice. Targeting the young, powerful & affluent.

  • Ad subtext: Paris is hot. Spicy BBQ is hot. If you like Paris, you’ll like our sandwich.

Fowles basic appeals
Fowles “Basic Appeals”

Basic appeals employed:

  • Need for attention: Utilizes the celebrity endorsement phenomenon. Associates product with celebrity infamous for attracting attention.

  • Need for Sex: Employs sex appeal in dress and body movements.

  • Need for affiliation: Invites desire to affiliate with her intimately, affiliate with her wealth, and thus affiliate with her hunger.

Ads that target adults
Ads that Target Adults

Fast food advertisers face a tougher target in the adult market, but adjust their appeals accordingly

  • Assuming a more informed consumer, ads must actively counter negative press related to the brand and industry

  • Advertisers must break through a greater resistance or insensitivity to advertising in general

  • Ads must take into account the sense of responsibility inherent to parenting and family life

Advertising tactics targeting the adult market
Advertising Tactics Targeting the Adult Market:

  • Addressing the need to feel safe

    In response to criticism, fast food ads increasingly attempt to portray their products as a healthy choice

  • Appealing to the need to escape

    By portraying subjects in their 30s displaying youthful qualities, fast food ads target the desire to feel young

  • Targeting the need to nurture

    Adult-focused fast food ads frequently employ the use of the “happy family” scenario, implying that their brand and products will contribute to a healthy, happy relationship between children and their parents

Example mcdonalds crowd surfing teacher
Example: McDonalds “Crowd Surfing Teacher”

  • Ad description: The commercial begins with high school youths eating at McDonald’s while recounting the excitement of an earlier music concert. Flashback clips focus on the orange shoes of a crowd surfing fan. The youths encounter their teacher in the restaurant and ask him what he’s up to; he replies “grading papers” and walks past. The camera focuses on his feet; he’s wearing the same orange shoes as the crowd surfer, and he raises his fist in a popular “rock-and-roll” hand sign as he exits.

  • Target audience: Pre-middle-aged adults (airs frequently during VH1 “I Love the –insert decade-” nostalgia shows)

  • Ad subtext:Stay youthful. Fast food is often associated with teenagers. You will still be “cool” if you eat at McDonald’s like teenagers do.

Basic appeals1
Basic Appeals

  • Need for affiliation:The ad implies that by eating at McDonald’s (and crowd surfing at the concert), the teacher has gained respect and credibility from his teenage students

  • Need for attention:From the crowd surfing, to the orange shoes, to the “rock-and-roll” hand sign, this ad implies that those who seek attention are rewarded with admiration

  • Need to escape:The ad invites the target viewer to escape the trappings of responsible adult life and regain a youthful freedom enjoyed by the young and young-at-heart, who choose McDonald’s as a favored brand

Changing tactics reactionary ads and products
Changing Tactics:Reactionary Ads and Products

In recent years a variety of popular influences have led to negative publicity for fast food companies and their products

Recent influences on consumer attitudes toward fast food
Recent Influences on Consumer Attitudes toward Fast Food:

  • Fast Food Nation:The Dark Side of the All-American Meal (Book by Eric Schlosser,2001)

    Presents a scathing indictment of the fast food industry in the United States.

  • Supersize Me:(Film, Dir. Morgan Spurlock, 2004)

    Documents the physical and psychological effects of eating only McDonald's fast food, three times a day, every day, for thirty days.

  • Bad publicityregarding fast food’s contribution to child and adult obesity epidemic

    Public reports have declared child and adult obesity a “national epidemic” and have stressed fast food’s role in the problem

The fast food industry has responded with
The fast food industry has responded with:

  • Health and fitness focused ads

    Ads are increasingly depicting fast food as part of an active, healthy lifestyle.

  • Salads and other “healthier” menu choices

    These items are deceptive: McDonald’s popular “Crispy Chicken Bacon Ranch Salad” w/dressing contains 510 calories (55% from 31g fat), 1670mg of sodium, and has meat and toppings fried in dangerous hydrogenated oils.

  • Shift of focus from product to brand

    Ads increasingly avoid showing subjects actually eating the products, and in many cases, do not even show the products themselves, but instead focus on reinforcing brand image and awareness.

In Conclusion:

In a fiercely competitive arena where brand recognition and loyalty rules, advertising is the life’s blood of the fast food industry.

Tenaciously pursuing cradle-to-grave brand loyalty, fast food companies have not only succeeded in making a big industry truly massive, but they have also drawn fire from critics of their tactics, and unwanted attention from public health concerns.

Commanding massive promotional budgets, and always adapting to public sentiments and moods, fast food advertising will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

Resources and links
Resources and Links

  • Spending in the U.S. on Advertising for Fast Foods, Sodas, and Automobiles

  • Food Advertising and Marketing Directed at Children and Adolescents in the US

  • Ad Age Advertising Century: Icons: Ronald McDonald

  • McDonalds New Campaign Is The Appearance of a Good Start

  • The leading US advertisers in 2004

  • Rolling Stone magazine: Fast-Food Nation: The True Cost Of America's Diet