Sonic, Red Lobster Ads Most Effective

Advertising research firm Ace Metrix ranks restaurant chains’ most effective TV ads from the third quarter

Sonic, Subway, and Red Lobster joined such major advertisers as Budweiser and MasterCard on Ace Metrix’s top 10 list of the “Most Effective TV Ads” of the third quarter.

Sonic received the top spot among restaurant-specific commercials, with Domino’s Pizza, Burger King, Taco Bell, LongHorn Steakhouse, and Outback Steakhouse also placing among the top 10, based on their “Ace Scores.”

Ace Metrix, a Los Angeles-based advertising research firm, calculates Ace Scores by surveying consumers about advertisements’ persuasiveness and watchable qualities. A commercial can earn a maximum of 950 possible points.

The restaurant spots employed a wide array of styles, deviating not only from the standard 30-second length, but also differing in their approaches to humor, food photography, and emotional appeal, said Jack McKee, vice president of Ace Metrix.

“I was thrilled to see the blend of ads we had,” McKee said. “A lot of new advertising concepts paid off with Sonic and Red Lobster, while Domino’s continued to carry in its campaign of the past two years. It was a mix of new creative, and the industry is trying new things. Brands are competing with everyone on product desirability, so it helps to break out of that food-shot mind-set.”

Sonic placed first and fourth on the third-quarter list with 60-second and 30-second versions, respectively, of the same ad. The minute-long commercial, in which a customer fantasizes himself riding a giant jalapeño, received an Ace Score of 657. The shorter ad garnered a 631 Ace Score.

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The average casual-dining sector score was 552, and the average quick-service score was 578, Ace Metrix said.

McKee noted that Sonic’s ads appealed to young, female survey respondents, while quick-service ads typically target and engage young males. And its commercials of varying lengths gave the campaign flexibility in media spending.

“If you’re trying to connect, spot length is crucial,” McKee said. “Having a blend of those spots is smart media buying. Shorter, complementary ads reinforce and communicate different aspects of a campaign, like one focused on a certain product or a price point.”

An unusually lengthy 90-second commercial from Red Lobster also cracked the top 10, with an Ace Score of 620. Part of Red Lobster’s “Sea Food Differently” campaign, the ad features the chain’s employees as the stars. A 30-second, true-life ad in that campaign with Red Lobster grill chef Charles Himple earned a 642 Ace Score.

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Domino’s Pizza also cast real employees when its culinary director Brandon Solano appeared in its top-10 ad touting its Artisan Pizza line.

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