Television ads by restaurant brands, especially those in the casual-dining category, scored well in the 2012 Brand of the Year Watch List released Wednesday by the Ace Metrix research firm.
Applebee’s, Baskin Robbins, Longhorn Steakhouse, Olive Garden and Outback Steakhouse were the top 5 brands in the restaurant category, Ace Metrix said. “Americans view casual dining as a small luxury that they can afford in an economy that’s recovering,” Ace Metrix said in releasing the list.
The watch list is a harbinger of the research firm’s Brand of the Year honoree that will be announced in January. Ace Metrix ranks ads by their Ace Score, the firm's proprietary measurement of how watchable and persuasive an advertisement is based on evaluation by 500 demographically balanced American consumers. The company measures key variables that impact brand performance, which include likability, attention, information content, relevance and purchase intent.
In 2011, restaurants included in the final Top 10 list from Ace Metrix were Applebee’s and Pizza Hut.
“The restaurant industry is obviously a very, very active category [in advertising],” said Peter Daboll, chief executive of Ace Metrix, in a phone interview. “These five are brands that have been able to do it consistently over the course of the creative in 2012.”
Daboll said Ace Metrix, which looks for effectiveness in creativity, said the high ratings of the restaurant brands in the ranking reflect “America’s love affair with food.”
“This is one of the highest performing categories that we have,” he said. “People are interested in food. There’s some great photography in a lot of these [ads] that show off the various dishes. And also the value messages that are coming through make consumers really respond to them.”
Baskin Robbins’ creative this year bumped out last year’s Dairy Queen, Daboll said, but the casual-dining restaurants — Applebee's, Longhorn, Olive Garden and Outback — were the ones that led the pack.
“You don’t see any burger chains,” Daboll said. “You don’t see a pizza brand, which you did last year. You see all these affordable luxury…casual-dining brands. These four are remarkably consistent in their ability to drive great ad performance.”
Among other finding in the watch list include crafter brewers are outshining big beer brands, non-soda drinks lead in non-alcoholic beverages, and the Olympics coverage benefited big consumer brands.
The Brand of the Year will be released soon after Jan. 1, Daboll said. “There’s always the opportunity for new creative coming in. We make sure we have a full census of the year,” he said. “Anything can happen given the ad strategy over the last six weeks of the year.
Ace Metrix, based in Mountain View, Calif., scores every nationally airing television advertisement across 23 industries and 85 categories.