Restaurant advertisements can help you:
- Raise awareness for your brand
- Drive potential customers to your restaurant
- Promote sales for both new and existing menu items
- Differentiate your offerings from your competitors
Some restaurant advertisements are easy to forget. Others end up being viral but short-lived. And then there are those which point toward a bigger cultural shift.
Our goal is to sift through all these ads and find you the most important trends to pay attention to. So that your restaurant not only advertises but actually does it well.
How are we doing this?
We analysed 500+ restaurant advertisements from 60 top restaurants.
Now you may think how we picked these restaurants? Well, we checked the top 10 global restaurant chains. Combining them with the latest World’s 50 top restaurant list as shared by Forbes, CNN Traveller, Eater and more publications.
There, we had our 60 restaurants. Here’s the list for you:
Largest restaurant chains:
4. Pizza Hut
6. Burger King
7. Domino’s Pizza
8. Dunkin’ Donuts
9. Taco Bell
10. Papa Jones
World’s top 50 restaurants:
1. Osteria Francescana; Modena, Italy
2. El Celler de Can Roca; Girona, Spain
3. Mirazur; Menton, France
4. Eleven Madison Park; New York, USA
5. Gaggan; Bangkok, Thailand
6. Central; Lima, Peru
7. Maido; Lima, Peru
8. Arpège; Paris, France
9. Mugaritz; San Sebastián, Spain
10. Asador Etxebarri; Axpe, Spain
Find the other 40 here.
Why online ads?
As of today, there are more than 4 billion people using the internet. This number is up 300% from 2005. If online advertising is not on your menu, you’re missing out on a huge list of potential customers.
These also offer a variety of formats to explore like video, still images and audio. Using various modes like search ads, social media ads, video ads etc.
But where do you start? And what makes for great restaurant advertisements content? Read on to know.
Here’s what we learned from 500+ restaurant ads:
Dunkin’s Fool the Foodies, Starbucks’ Coffee Challenge: Tapping the new-gen YouTube and Instagram stars
Restaurants are increasingly choosing new media stars over traditional celebrities.
These new media stars also known as influencers offer a more targeted following. A study by The Shelf confirms 92% of consumers trust recommendations from other people—over promotional content that comes directly from brands.
Restaurants have recognised this fact well.
In fact, 24% of these restaurant ads we analysed were focused on influencer marketing campaigns.
While Youtube and Instagram were the top choices for restaurants for running these campaigns and picking the influencers from.
Check these out:
The Starbucks Challenge
Gaggan Restaurant’s review
Pizza Hut’s Freedom Campaign
Dunkin’s Fool the Foodies campaign
McGold Card, Crusto-Currency: campaigning for your loyalty programs
Customer loyalty always pays off. While loyalty programs have existed since 1982, it is recently that they have caught large interest. Fast-paced restaurants are already promoting their programs to derive more adoption.
5% of these advertisements were entirely focused on a loyalty program, while many others mentioned loyalty somewhere in the ad.
Here are three of our favourites:
McDonald’s introducing the McGold Card
Who’ll be interested in cryptocurrency when there’s delicious crusto-currency?
Papa John’s Rewards
Taco Bell promoting its loyalty program with an in-app game:
Scroll-thru instead of drive-thru: promoting mobile ordering and delivery
Delivery and online ordering are increasingly becoming the favourite for couch and Netflix loving consumers. Restaurants are also adapting to this trend by launching their own ordering platforms or partnering with third-party sites.
When it comes to promoting online & delivery services, restaurants are putting in all the efforts. Want some proof?
35% of the advertisements we analysed were solely focused on mobile ordering and/or delivery.
KFC’S ad shows how drive-thru is a concept of past, with social media, it is now time for scroll-thru
Domino’s delivery advertisement
Burger King Whopper Detour
Crazy taco filters on Snapchat: Making use of the stories format
Over 500 million people in the world use the ‘Stories’ format to consume information daily. Stories act as a great business opportunity to connect with the millennial & Gen Z audience. And now almost all major social media platforms offer to publish in this format.
57 out of these 60 restaurants were actively using stories to advertise their restaurant.
Take inspiration from here:
Taco Bell Snapchat Filter
Subway’s Nutrition tips campaign
Disfrutar introducing their new menu
#PapaProfiles or the Subway history: highlighting your legacy is important
Another important trend we noticed was how these advertisements embrace a restaurant’s legacy. Sharing your story, how you are where you are, and connecting with your audience on an emotional level works for advertising – even the restaurants.
Look at Papa John’s campaign with various of its franchise owners:
They call this series the #PapaProfiles of Papa John family members sharing their unique stories.
Subway’s no far away, they shared a wonderful video on completing 53 years in the industry:
Another example is from El Celler de Can Roca
Real Ronald McDonalds-tested Breakfast Menu: How to lead conversations around competitors
Taco Bell when launching it’s breakfast menu made real-life Ronald McDonalds taste its food. Here’s the video:
Burger King’s “Come as a clown, eat like a king” campaign taking a dig at McDonald’s was another huge hit in the market.
While these kinds of ads to spread like fire, sometimes friendly conversations and efforts can also get you those big views. Like here:
Domino’s #PointsForPizza campaign gives out reward points anytime a customer eats any pizza, yes ANY pizza, even the competitor’s. They’re using AI tech to track and run this campaign.
Here’s the video:
Real-love stories, a day with the chef: Selling a complete experience
Ultimately, it boils down to selling a complete experience to your prospective customers. Giving them what they like, and how they like it.
A whopping 47% of these ads mentioned or focused on an experience/incident more than their food.
Like Restaurant Geranium is advertising by focusing on a day of learning with chefs:
Mirazur restaurant runs & promotes a special Mauro’s market:
In fact, many advertising experts say that – “Magic happens not only when an ad is relevant to an individual—which is primarily driven by data—but also when viewers are rapt and great creative makes an emotional connection”
Like how Dunkin shared a real-life love story powered by the love of doughnuts:
Now it’s your turn
We hope this post will provide you with new ways to advertise your restaurant and spark some ideas for your marketing strategies.
Key takeaways from this study:
- More video than ever
- Right story at the right time
- Don’t shy away from competitor conversations
- Micro-influencers over big celebrities
- New formats like stories to rule
- Growing marketing for online delivery & loyalty programs
- Be responsible in your communication.
- Sell a complete experience.
Did these takeaways resonate with you? What does your advertising strategy look like? Have an idea you want to discuss? Just drop by in the comments and we’d love to chat.