Restaurant chains with the most influential commercials in the third quarter did not stray too far from talking up their low price points as they competed across segments and dayparts in a slow economy, according to a new study from Ace Metrix.
The marketing research firm ranked restaurant brands’ advertisements by its proprietary Ace Score, which measures a commercial’s persuasiveness and "watchability," and found that LongHorn Steakhouse and KFC had the top-scoring commercials in their respective casual-dining and quick-service categories.
The average Ace Score for all advertisers in all categories was 507 out of a possible 950 during the quarter, and the casual-dining and quick-service sectors both had norms that exceeded the overall figure, at 573 and 544, respectively.
Jonathan Symonds, executive vice president of marketing for Ace Metrix, said the restaurant industry’s constant fight for the same customers across quick service, fast casual and casual dining was reflected in brands’ TV commercials, particularly for casual-dining chains. Because dinnerhouse brands are trying to prevent guests trading down to fast casual and to gain market share at lunch, “they’re using everything in their portfolio” to pack value price points and appealing food shots into every spot, he said.
LongHorn's "You Decide" ad generated the highest Ace Score in Q3
Of the 10 highest-scoring ads in Ace Metrix’s casual-dining category, only one commercial for IHOP’s Belgian waffles did not contain a price point.
Quick-service brands, on the other hand, had broader advertising strategies in play during the third quarter. Many of the top-scoring commercials were for new-product news, some without even mentioning price, and the quick-service brands took more chances with humor in their ads than casual-dining chains did.
However, even if value was de-emphasized in some spots, those commercials still had a price point, especially among the big three pizza chains, which had six of the 10 highest Ace Scores for quick service during the quarter.