Journal of Marketing – 21 September 2011

The latest The Annual Ad Forum was titled ‘Fast Food Advertising – it makes you sick at times’. Here’s a recap of some of the salient points:

Tumi Rabanye from Ornico, partner of The Ad Forum, presented a brief overview of the ad industry, highlighting that the fast food industry has proved to be recession proof, with significant growth seen across the sector.

The panel, chaired by Jeremy Maggs and consisting of GSM Quadrant’s Gordon Muller, IHOP’s Musa Kalenga, Yellowwood Future Architects’ Andy Rice and Vega student, Justin Nothling, discussed prominent fast food brands, Chicken Licken, Debonairs, KFC, McDonald’s, Mugg & Bean, Nando’s, Roman’s Pizza, Spur, Steers and Wimpy. The consensus across the panel and the audience was a resounding thumbs down for McDonald’s, Roman’s Pizza and Wimpy’s recent campaigns. None of the brands enjoyed a solid seal of approval among the panelists; however, Spur, Steers, KFC and Nando’s fared best, with Chicken Licken, Debonairs and Mugg & Bean splitting the panel. Audience members showed the strongest support for KFC and Nando’s print campaign.

Muller pointed out the attempt by fast food brands to want to own a word, such as Steers’ ‘Hoohah’, Roman’s Pizza’s ‘Ubumnandi’ and Wimpy’s ‘Epic’, while Rice noted the use of similar voice over artists, with several brands featuring a monotonous and laid back young male. In keeping with the sound of ads, Rice feels that fast food brands can’t use radio ads to sell taste appeal. Nothling and Muller noted the trend for fast food brands, in particular KFC and Steers, to advertise in a masculine way. Kalenga summed it all up by saying that when it comes to fast food advertising, despite the panel calling for more memorable campaigns, consumers expect the same as they do from the food – disposable and without significant depth, although consistency across campaigns is certainly key.