Power Rankings

Fast Food Marketing Power Rankings: April 2011 ed.

It’s time for the debut of the Fast Food Marketing Power Rankings! It will be one of many recurring features here.

The key word for this list is Marketing. I am judging the advertising campaigns only. This has nothing to do with their quality, or lack thereof.  It has nothing to do with proximity. If I hear an ad on the radio, see it on TV or the internet, and it made an impression – good or bad, then it’s on the list. There may or may not be a comment why they’re placed where they are. If you believe I’ve missed some – you’re probably right. Either their ads are so forgettable, I can’t remember them, or I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing their ads of late. I watch a lot of 3rd tier digital cable TV, so I can miss a lot of national ad campaigns. And some places don’t need advertising; word-of-mouth works just fine for Hooters’, Five Guys, etc… so they’re not on the list. The list covers more than just fast food joints. Included are pizza chains, and family style chains.

DISCLAIMER: I love lists but I realize their biggest and most fatal flaw. The longer the list, the more irrelevance in the rankings. Unless it is something that can be purely measured mathematically, what really is the difference between #22 and #23 on the list. Like a bell curve, there is little to no difference separating the middle 80% of any list. So please don’t fret too much about the rankings in the middle. I didn’t. And besides, a new list will be posted before you know it.

Without further adew… here are the rankings:

1. McDonald’s – Still the Gold standard. They can sell the McTurd sandwich, and we’ll come back for more.

2. Wendy’s – They’ve come on strong, with their new sea salt fries.

3. Domino’s – They’ve finally acknowledged that their old recipe sucked. Props for having their CEO promising to re-invent themselves.

4. Dunkin’ Donuts – I miss those jingles from They Might Be Giants. Their menu keeps expanding every other week.

5. Subway – Their $5 foot long is catchy and easy on the wallet. That’s a win-win!

6. Popeye’s – Sadly, their in-restarant ads that state their chicken beat KFC in a taste test is better than their TV ads.

7. Dave & Buster’s – The gist of their ads is that they’re Chuck-E-Cheese for grown men. Nothing wrong with that.

8. Applebees’

9. Papa John’s – I wonder how much they’ll promote being a sponsor of the NFL if the lockout continues.

10. TGIFriday’s

11. IHOP

12. Red Lobster

13. Chili’s – Can they ever top, “I want my baby back ribs” ? Probably not.

14. Arby’s – Their concept of polar opposite types agreeing on Arby’s menu starts strong, but ends weakly. It has potential to rise in the standings.

15. Taco Bell – Normally a Top Ten stalwart. A dry spell of late that I hope is only temporary. (Kinda like my employment status the last few months)

16. White Castle – I’ve heard new ads during baseball radio broadcasts. I hope they have some good ads for TV soon.

17. KFC – I guess their grilled chicken hasn’t sold as well as they hoped. It’s back to the buckets of the fried stuff again.

18. Chick Fil-A – Mainly invisible around me since football season ended. I hope for new ads now that baseball season started. (See #16)

19. Pizza Hut – Losing the P/R battle to their rivals. Gotta pick up their game.

20. Red Robin – God, I hate their actors. They are such idiots! Too bad, since I like their concept of bottomless fries.

21. Cici’s – Thankfully, there is no franchise near me. They’ll need really good commercial to make me forget just how awful their product is. But that is another story for another time.

22. Sonic – Ironic that they have a Coney Island hot dog, since there is no Sonic within 50 miles of Brooklyn. Props for realizing the large Russian community within certain neighborhoods of Kings County.

23. Burger King – Their streak of awful and pathetic campaigns is quite remarkable. You have to go back to 1977 with their tie-in to the original release of Star Wars: A New Hope in order to find a successful marketing strategy.

24. Buffalo Wild Wings – I wish I could express my utter contempt and hatred for their concept that professional sporting contests can be rigged, and are rigged by some random bartender is a BWW. The big 4 North American Leagues should refuse their ads on that principle alone. Heck, even the smaller leagues like the WNBA and MLS should be more worried, since it’s probably easier to “fix” one of their games. The ad with them faking a weather report makes no sense either. Sure, they keep their patrons in their restaurant longer, but their bosses at work will just fire them anyway for taking a 3 hour lunch break.


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