Fast-Food Ads Fared Well Among Millennials Last Year

Wendy'sHard to believe it nowadays, but ads matter, even among Millennials. The top ad last year, based on Nielsen's "Branded Memorability Index" measure of viewers' ability to recall an ad and brand 24 hours after exposure, was Wendy's Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger. The "Be With You" ad, directed by Jeffrey Fleisig at Ubercontent, who has done humorous, irreverent ads for the likes of VW, Axe, Pepsi Zero, Sprite, and Progressive, was also the top spot among Hispanics and Asian-American Millennials.

Wendy’s ad was emblematic of a larger trend, per Nielsen. The media measurement firm said that in general, fast food and quick-service restaurant ads dominated among Millennials for memorability. Among the top 10 ads (based on Nielsen’s TV Brand Effect measure), fast food and quick-service constituted six. Fast food was also the second-highest-ranking product category based on ad spend last year. Automotive, pharmaceutical and motion picture categories were also top spenders.



Food ads represented 8 of the 10 top ads among African-Americans, 9 of 10 top ads among Hispanics, but only 3 of the 10 top ads among Asian-Americans, among whom tech/telecom, insurance and finance were dominant.

The Wendy’s ad was also the top ad among African-American Millennials. But the top ad among both Hispanic Millennials and Asian Millennials was Sonic’s Cheesy Bread Dogs. Sonic’s ad was second in memorability among African-Americans. 

The other top ads for Millennials overall were IHOP's "National Pancake Day," Skittles' "Pet Cloud," NFL Store "Julie Loves the Vikings," Papa John's "Fritos on a Pizza,” and ads for's Candy Crush, Little Caesar's, Old Navy, KFC and Subway. 

Nielsen said campaigns that focused on fun new menu items, as did Wendy’s Pretzel Bacon Cheeseburger ads, resonated with younger consumers, as did food ads that highlighted discount offerings, like Subway’s $3 Italian sub spot.

The firm also found that across all categories, ads that featured humor or had an “ownable” campaign concept were top performers last year among those between 18 to 33 years of age. 

Per Nielsen Monitor Plus data, Procter & Gamble, General Motors, Toyota, AT&T, Ford, Comcast, Berkshire Hathaway, Pfizer, L'Oreal and Fiat were the top ad spenders last year.

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