Marketing is a lot more important than the average person might realize, especially when it comes to fast-food restaurants. Most people already know what fast food joints are already in their towns and cities, but might need that extra push to be convinced into heading there for a meal. Because of this, restaurants dump a ton of money into marketing and making themselves look better than the competition.
There have been plenty of dud campaigns along the way that have cost restaurants millions, but then there have been some that drove up revenue so much that the marketing campaigns felt like pennies in comparison. Here are five of those campaigns that fall into the latter category, and are not only remembered by people who were alive when they ran but are known to those born years after.
Have It Your Way
Back in the day if you went to a fast-food restaurant and wanted to make some substitutions to your order, there was a good chance that you would’ve simply been told to order something else. That all changed in the early 1970s when Burger King released their “Have It Your Way” campaign, allowing customers to alter their meals. In fact, Burger King encouraged people to change their orders.
If you didn’t want mayo on your Whopper, Burger King told people that “special orders don’t upset us.” The jingle has been a staple for Burger King ever since, and an altered version was used in recent years. You may know it better as the “Whopper Whopper” commercial that played several times during seemingly every sporting event and became an earworm for millions.
I’m Lovin’ It
In Germany, McDonald’s released an ad campaign called “Ich Liebe Es,” which became a familiar catchphrase worldwide. It was translated into every native language for countries that had a McDonald’s, and in English-speaking countries, it was “I’m Lovin’ It”. In the early 2000s, McDonald’s went all-in on the ad campaign, even tabbing pop superstar Justin Timberlake to create a full-length jingle.
The song was even written by Pharrell Williams, showing just how serious McDonald’s was. The catchphrase became a permanent slogan for McDonald’s and its catchiness had people saying it even outside of the fast food context. Just how successful was the catchphrase in some countries? The Timberlake jingle became the number-one song for a brief period in Belgium.
Subway’s Weight Loss
As fast food became more prevalent in modern society, it was linked to the rapid increase of obesity worldwide. Many fast-food chains were scrambling to do something that would make them appear healthier to the public, and Subway was the one that came out on top. Using a spokesman who at the time seemed like a wholesome everyman that lost 250 pounds by eating Subway, the chain became the go-to for people who wanted fast food but also wanted to lose weight.
This increase in new customers caused Subway to rapidly expand around the world to become the most common fast food chain globally. The advent of the $5 footlong came along around the same time, but the increase in prices and the tainted legacy of Jared Fogle has knocked Subway from its top spot.
Where’s the Beef
Many people accused fast food restaurants of using small hamburger patties and large buns to make their sandwiches appear larger in advertising, and Wendy’s knew that. The burger chain wanted to rip on the likes of McDonald’s and Burger King for this practice, and enlisted the help of actress Clara Peller to look at their burgers and ask “Where’s the beef?”
The slogan became an international hit and caused Wendy’s to explode in popularity to the point where they were rivaling both of the big two. The “Where’s the Beef” campaign was so successful that it even launched a novelty song and was seen on bumper stickers and t-shirts around the world.
Yo Quiero Taco Bell
Another one of those slogans that really caught on to the point where people said it without even thinking about fast food was “Yo quiero Taco Bell?” In 1997, Taco Bell launched a marketing campaign where a real-life chihuahua named Gidget asked that very question, and was voiced by Carlos Alazraqui of “Reno 911” fame.
While many marketing campaigns only last for a couple of months at most, “Yo quiero Taco Bell” became a staple of their advertising for three years. Interestingly enough, though, Taco Bell was sued successfully for over $30 million when it was discovered that two men from Michigan pitched the idea to Taco Bell. The restaurant chain didn’t pay them royalties after denying their pitch in 1996.