5 min read

The Best Fast Food Ads Ever

Written by
Pavlo Fedykovych
Published on
October 19, 2023
May 29, 2024

There are just so many awesome fast food ads. That’s why we’re extending our list to deliver you more iconic marketing moments and bring even more inspiration. McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, Dunkin’ are all here. Watching these ads you’re transported to the era when they were first aired so there’s quite a historic value too. Check out these best fast food ads ever!

1. McDonald’s - Introducing...The Happy Meal

Why: can you imagine that there was a time when there was no Happy Meal in McDonald’s? It was in 1979 that the company introduced this kid-tailored menu. The Happy Meal was a huge success, reportedly the menu brought the company more than $80 billion in sales since the start. The commercial for its launch is in the golden fund of the best fast food ads ever. 

Simplicity is key in the 30-second advert. McDonald’s presents a new menu item and it’s a presentation for the guidebooks. The highlighting of the products is done synchronized with the music, there are feel-good snippets of the satisfied clients, and a “Nobody can do it like McDonald’s can” earworm jingle at the end.

2. McDonald’s - Big Mac Commercial

Why: we remember the 80s as the era when jingles were at their peak in advertising. McDonald’s went full choir mode to promote the Big Mac in a 1984 commercial. And it’s definitely among the best fast food ads ever, you simply can’t escape the “beef, patty, special sauce, lettuce, cheese” flow. It hits you like some kind of Ronald McDonald-orchestrated Carol of the Bells. There’s something uplifting about this composition too, like you’re in a church of burgers and fries or something. But wait for the ending, “it’s a good time for the great taste of McDonald’s” line sounds like Bohemian Rhapsody, no less. 

3. Burger King - Have it Your Way

Why: whopper, whopper, whopper, whopper… oh, wrong era. While you may know the unescapable and somehow very pleasurable to listen to Burger King's present-day jingle, the origins are in the 70s. It all started with the 1974 commercial and a “Have it Your Way song”. The timelessness is what makes this commercial one of the best fast food ads ever. 

The family wants to eat. They choose Burger King. But they have demands, no pickle and no lettuce. Would it be a problem for Burger King? Certainly not. The charming counter lady sings a hit song to the happy family and everyone is happy. You can have it your way at BK. Pure marketing genius and extremely well-made commercial it is. 

4. KFC - Sunday Dinner

Why: 1968 was a long, long time ago. But even then KFC fried them chickens. And delivered some of the best marketing game on the market with Colonel Sanders shining bright. Sunday Dinner is a commercial with fantastic exposition and perfect plotting. People in 1968 had a problem. They wanted to have their Sunday dinner but it was hard to take it out, for example, to “church socials, parties, or ball games”. But don’t worry, Colonel has your back. He’s tirelessly frying for you to be able to enjoy your chicken-heavy Sunday dinner wherever you go. 

5. Pizza Hut - Pizza to Go 

Why: there’s one thing that you definitely going to learn from this commercial. Pizza Hut is the pizza to go. That’s indisputable. The jingle simply doesn’t let you go easily. It’s intensified with the images of retro-phones and blips of the button-pressing. That’s exactly how you do it to stay in the customer’s memory. And Pizza Hut needed to make that point in 1984 when the competition with Domino’s for deliveries was reaching its peak. As we know, rivalry makes for the best creative outcomes. That’s why this Pizza Hut entry is among the best fast food ads ever. 

6. Dunkin’ - Time to make the donuts!

Why: in 1984 Dunkin’ not only made one of the most memorable and best fast food ads ever, it gave us an existential piece of art too. It follows the everyday journey to work and back of the company’s beloved character Fred (played by Michael Vale). He only says two phrases: “Time to make the doughnuts” and “I’ve made the doughnuts”. No matter the weather or his mental state, he’s up every day to make these doughnuts.

And while the main goal of the campaign was to show that Dunkin’s produce was always made fresh, intentionally or unintentionally the company produced something else. It depicted the hamster wheel of our mundane lives where work is inescapable no matter how you feel. And this, ladies and gentlemen, is powerful. And sad.

7. Taco Bell - Yo Quiero Taco Bell

Why: it’s 1997 and we’re graced with this hilarious piece of marketing. Taco Bell employs cute Gidget, the Mexican chihuahua who wants some Taco Bell. Yes, he speaks. And, as a Mexican, he speaks Spanish. The campaign was so successful that there’s now a Wikipedia page devoted to Taco Bell chihuahua which speaks a lot about the pop culture impact of this ad. 

8. McDonald's - Can't Stop

Why: McDonald’s gives it all in Cant’s Stop. The song is just next level for an ordinary ad jingle. The singers, the musicians, the actors, everyone is just loving it. If there weren’t “McDonald’s” background chants you could have mistaken it for a well-regarded 80s hit a la Abba or Whitney Houston. As for the video, it’s “euphoric” as one of the YouTube commenters aptly mentioned. People are moving, everything is in motion. “You deserve a break,” says the slogan in the end but the break is nowhere in sight for anyone involved in the video.

Here's our previous list of the best fast food ads ever.

Fast food ads have been there since the dawn of time. Provocative, colorful, funny, stupid, and weird, they have indicated what’s wrong and what's right with the business. Not everyone succeeded but we’ve seen some of the best advertisement pieces ever that have formed some kind of a golden fund for the marketing videos. Let’s see the best of the best. 

1. Simpsonize me - Burger King

Why: the royalty of best fast food ads, this one from Burger King is brilliantly done. Taking one of the most popular animated shows ever and getting it to work for your brand is a thing of beauty.

In this 1-minute commercial everything works right. The jokes are on point, the crossover between real life and animated does magic, and the execution is flawless. Basically, you’ve got a full-fledged Simpsons episode watching experience. Burger King nailed that one making it one of the most popular fast food ads ever. 

2. Where’s the beef - Wendy’s

Why: how about a crazy commercial from the 70s? Here’s a determined grandma driving her relatives (?) that keep comically bumping at the doors with every turn to find the burger with beef. Not only it’s one of these proto-dig commercials that throw shade on competitors (McDonald's and Burger King), but it’s also a fantastic ad that is fun to watch.

The music is truly psychedeliс, the 70s designs are easy on the eyes, and the main question is still as relevant as always. Where’s the goddamn beef? Probably, it’s at Wendy’s. But who knows. 

3. Yo Quiero Taco Bell - Taco Bell

Why: where to begin with this one. It’s perfect. The chihuahua dog is adorable. His name is Gidget and as it is 1997 here you may understand his fate in 2022. But he’s always with us as a hero of this iconic Taco Bell ad. You’re guaranteed to rewatch it. And then rewatch it once again.

The music is addictive, and the way Gidget ignores a pretty chihuahua she-dog deserves respect. After all, the dog knows exactly what it wants and many people should learn from this determination. And that thing is a Taco Bell. Which Gidget pronounces to the slightly stoned taco vendor in the end.

Yo Quiero Taco Bell. Don’t we all after this ad?

4. The Noid - Domino’s Pizza

Why: the Noid is a character created by Domino’s in the height of the 80s to illustrate the challenges of pizza delivery and juxtaposition it with the way Domino’s does things. But along the years it has become much more than a character, for many it has become a spirit of the 80s, a piece of nostalgia, and eventually a pop culture fix. And that’s exactly the way mascots should work.

It’s one thing to introduce a character. It’s a whole another level to create something that persists on and on. The Noid even made a return in the 21st century in another Domino’s ad (to mixed results though). But still, watch and learn. 

5. "The Showdown" Bird vs. Jordan - McDonald’s

Why: You can’t get bigger than this McDonald’s commercial. One of the greatest and best fast food ads of all time it follows a battle between two titans of basketball for a Big Mac menu lunch. Larry Bird vs Michael Jordan, 1993, Super Bowl spot. A perfect combination for a win.

Two athletes challenge each other to score from unexpected angles and it’s an amusing fight to follow. The commercial proved to be so successful that McDonalds chose to repeat the trick by filming another similar-formatted video in 2010 pitting Dwight Howard and LeBron James against each other. Larry Bird makes a cameo in the end eating the Big Mac. Fast food perfection it is. 

6. Little Sister - McDonald’s

Why: while this classic ad from McDonald’s may seldom make any millennials or Gen Z people tear up, the people in the 80s cried a river to the somewhat clunky but earnest tune of the “Little Sister” commercial. It follows a brother singing about her sister growing up and becoming a homecoming queen.

It’s very American, very beautifully made and very heartwarming. Who knew that a decade after, there would be commercials of Paris Hilton washing cars half-naked for Carl's Jr. Burger (that actually started a discussion about sexism in ads). The 80s was a puritan place of a brother singing his heart out to celebrate the life of his sister. Aided by some fries and Coca-Cola from McDonald’s of course. So let’s dully enjoy this kind of fast food restaurant ad. 

7. The BTS Meal - McDonald’s

Why: Yes, McDonald’s again. But what can we do if their advertising game rarely disappoints? That video is all about using star power. BTS are one of the most popular bands in the world at the moment and such a grande chain as Mc couldn’t miss a chance to make them their own.

By introducing a special meal “blessed by the band”. The commercial is simple but it does the job right. Expect millions of BTS fans around the world to become McDonald’s fans too after this ad. It’s not the first time the company does the special celebrity meal advertising stint. But this one seems the be most powerful to date. 

8. Crossroads - KFC

Why: Ennio Morricone’s music in a KFC commercial, one of the best fast food ads ever? We’re all in for it. The video follows a lonely chick going through the snowy countryside to encounter a turkey in the end. WTF you may say. But wait for it. The chick scares the turkey off and the text reads “Turkey comes and goes. But chicken’s here to stay”.

Did we need such information? Probably not. Is it a fantastically done creative fast-food ad? Absolutely. And it’s always great to see brands going cinematic with their ad endeavors. The sad part is that the chick becomes what KFC sells. But hey, at least the turkey "comes and goes".

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