The very first commercial for this pizza chain aired in 1965, and those of a certain generation will certainly remember the man in the tiny car (a 1965 Mustang GR) being chased through town, to the Pizza Hut, and back to his house, where his pie is greedily gobbled up before he can even grab a slice. It introduced the nation to the chain, which remains one of the country’s most successful to this day.
Credit: YouTube/ roadkillontheweb
No matter how you feel about Subway’s Jared Fogle, there's no doubt that he’s one of the most enduring company spokesmen of all time. He was introduced (unleashed?) in 2000, after dropping 245 pounds in one year thanks to a diet that was heavy on Subway sandwiches (as well as exercise). His story helped transform Subway’s image into a "healthy" fast-food option, one which it still maintains to this day. Fogle still shows up in Subway commercials regularly, but the most enduring is the one that started it all.
Credit: YouTube/ drunkshowzrerun
8) Kentucky Fried Chicken
Kentucky Fried Chicken is synonymous with Colonel Harlan Sanders, and while an obvious reason could be that he was KFC's founder, in reality it’s because he appeared in many, many commercials for the chain. His most enduring is one from 1969, in which he sits, calmly explaining the product to the viewer before being called off to supper. He also makes sure to repeat their motto, "It’s finger-lickin’ good," several times. How could you not be in the mood for fried chicken after listening to this man?
Credit: YouTube/ eat4freeatkfc
7) Burger King
This burger giant has had its share of advertising flops over the years (does anyone remember "Where’s Herb?"), and its "King" character certainly had some folks scratching their heads, but their motto "Have It Your Way" has stood the test of time, largely thanks to a 1974 Motown-style jingle in which a trio serenades a customer after he asks to customize his burger. "Hold the pickles, hold the lettuce…"
Credit: YouTube/ randimay21
Whereas KFC had the Colonel, Popeyes has Louisiana cred and the vocal stylings of Dr. John. This trademark jingle, originally sung by the inimitable New Orleans funk legend, is super-catchy, fun, and still used in commercials today. While both KFC and Popeyes have a similar menu, nobody will ever get them confused thanks to their legendary marketing campaigns.
Credit: YouTube/ seanmc31076
Back in the mid-1980s, Domino’s Pizza and ad agency Group 243 were trying to figure out the best way to advertise the fact that the pizza chain guaranteed delivery in 30 minutes or less. As a starting point, they assumed that customers would be annoyed if their pizza arrived late, so they created a little character to personify all those little annoyances. His name: The Noid (get it?). The first Noid commercial was introduced in 1986, and the motto, "Avoid the Noid," resonated so much that the odd little character became one of the enduring images of the '80s, and even spawned a video game.
Credit: YouTube/ Classiccommercials4u
4) Taco Bell
A Chihuahua trots through town on a mission. He passes by potential distractions, including a possible love interest, without a second glance. Finally, he reaches his destination: a man about to bite into a taco. He looks up at the man (the camera has been at the dog’s eye level this whole time), opens his mouth, and says, "Yo quiero Taco Bell." The catchphrase, uttered by Reno 911! and Rocko’s Modern Life’s Carlos Alazraqui, quickly entered the pop culture lexicon thanks to widespread airplay in 1998, 1999, and to a lesser extent 2000, and became to the '90s what the Noid was to the '80s.
Credit: YouTube/ charlieg007879
3) Dunkin' Donuts
From 1982 to 1997, Fred the Baker, played by actor Michael Vale, would rise before dawn in a series of commercials, as it was "time make the donuts" for the millions of Americans who depended on him every morning for their Dunkin' Donuts fix. Vale's unyielding dedication — as well as his perfect casting and line delivery — became so engrained in the national culture that upon his character’s "retirement" in 1997 he was paraded through the streets of Boston, and the chain gave away 6 million free donuts to mark the occasion. Now that’s a successful advertising campaign.
Credit: YouTube/ AllCommercials
Two all-beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun! McDonald’s has aired a lot of commercials over the years, and introduced a whole lot of characters, but no individual commercial quite grabbed hold of pop culture as much as this simple 1975 commercial in which a handful of regular folks attempted to say the tongue-twister. Not only did this inspire millions of Americans to try and do the same, they also managed to incorporate a catchy jungle into the mix as well.
In the spot, three elderly ladies examine a burger with a very large bun. Upon closer examination, though, they realize that the patty is tiny, leading actress Clara Peller to ask her signature question. The commercial first aired Jan. 10, 1984, and the simple query gave way to a slew of promotional items; found its way into a handful of TV shows, movies, and other media outlets; begat a country song by Coyote McCloud; and made a national celebrity out of Peller. The phrase even entered the national lexicon, as a catch-all in response to being offered something unsatisfactory. So congratulations, Wendy’s, you’ve created the single most memorable fast-food commercial in American history.
Credit: YouTube/ Jiro Su
Discover More Like This
BACK TO SLIDE
Commercials for fast food are simply inescapable. We see them almost every time we watch television, flaunting their glossy burgers, fries, shakes, and whichever other product du jour they're looking to hype up. Oftentimes these advertisements go in one ear and out the other, lucky to even elicit a "that looks tasty" from our subconscious (or, more realistically, from our kids).
But some commercials stick around for a little while longer. Whether it's due to a snappy catchphrase, a creative storyline, a humorous spokesperson, or a catchy song, every so often these brands strike gold, and their commercial reaches that pinnacle that every ad executive dreams of: they enter the pop culture lexicon.
Almost everyone has some company motto or ad campaign centerpiece stuck somewhere in their subconscious. Think of the Coca-Cola polar bears, for example, or the Budweiser frogs. But when it comes to fast food, no other industry has worked so hard to capture the public's attention through advertising dollars, and television advertising in particular. In fact, some might even forget that Ronald McDonald and his cast of characters, including the Hamburglar and Mayor McCheese, were invented solely to sell fast food to children.
In assembling our list of the top 10 fast-food commercials, our primary consideration was the level that they ingrained themselves into the public consciousness; the individual commercials that ranked the highest on our list were the ones whose imagery had some real staying power. For example, the phrase "Pizza! Pizza!" quickly associates itself with Little Caesars, but you'd be hard-pressed to recall the individual storyline of a Little Caesars commercial (and for that reason, it didn't make our list). On the other hand, the phrase "Avoid the Noid" conjures images of not only Domino's, but the Noid himself in the commercial. The top commercial on our list was not only effective, but extremely memorable and much-loved, and the lead actress even achieved a level of celebrity thanks to it.
To read the list of the top 10 fast-food commercials of all time, Check out the slideshow above!