Maybe the generations have different tastes, but five restaurant marketers have found ways to reach both millennials and Gen Xers with some success. Ad performance data from the first quarter shows that Subway, Taco Bell, Sonic, KFC and Papa John’s offered spots that finished high in likeability rankings among both demographic segments.
That doesn’t mean both groups warmed to the same creative in the quick-service restaurant (QSR)/casual dining category, according to Nielsen.
For example, a Subway spot with the “Februany” theme finished No. 1 in a likeability index among millennials, but eighth among Gen Xers. A Taco Bell ad about a Doritos-flavored taco finished second among millennials, but ninth among Gen Xers.
CBS sportscaster Jim Nantz might have greater appeal to the older segment, as a spot with him for Papa John’s finished first among Gen Xers, but ninth among millennials.
The net likeability index determined by Nielsen TV Brand Effect used to determine the top performers took into account the percentage of those who recalled a spot “strongly” or “somewhat” liked it. Only spots that debuted during the first three months of 2013 were measured.
Nielsen defines millennials as those ages 13 to 34 and Gen Xers as those 35 to 54. The research firm said that ads that placed best among the former were “notably humorous, upbeat and fast-paced.” It also suggests social media can buttress an ad’s impact among the younger set, saying Taco Bell’s exposure there around the Super Bowl may have helped its spot for a Doritos-flavored taco do well with millennials.
Sonic, which features offbeat ads of people in drive-throughs, showed a notable dexterity. It had spots -- one 30-second and another 15-second spot -- about footlong hot dogs finishing third and fourth in the millennial category, while an ad about a sundae finished fourth among Gen Xers. The “silly humor” in the hot dog ads worked well among millennials, Nielsen said.
Sonic had more spots in the top 10 than any other marketer among millennials, but only one that high among Gen Xers. That one employed “relatable characters/situations,” which Nielsen says works best with the older group.
A pair of the same KFC ads made the top-10 among both segments. An ad for Dave & Buster’s cracked the top-10 among millennials, but the chain had no presence there with Gen Xers. The reverse was the case with ads for Olive Garden and IHOP. The Olive Garden ad about a promotion with a woman and man on a date finished second among Gen Xers.