The Best Fast Food Commercials of All Time

The best commercials are the ones that get stuck in your head and the ones that you keep talking about for years after they aired.

Man watching tv Commercials

From small dogs to deep voices, marketing departments have tried various ways to ensure that the public can quickly identify their brand and purchase their product.

Fast food companies are some of the most creative advertisers. Fast food commercials identify new food items on the menu and use clever jingles or catchphrases to capture an audience.

Here we’ve outlined some of the best fast-food commercials of all time.

Check out some iconic fast food commercials from the last few years.

The Noid – Domino’s Pizza

The Noid is a character created in the 1980s for Domino’s Pizza.

The cartoon manifests all the difficulties a delivery driver may face when attempting to deliver a pizza within thirty minutes of a customer placing an order.

The Noid is dressed in a red bodysuit with an emblazoned black “N” in a white circle on its chest, reminiscent of a comic book villain’s costume. The character reappeared in 2021.

My favorite commercial featuring The Noid is when he attempts to thwart pizza delivery with a pizza crusher.

Fortunately for the hungry family, The Noid fails in his mission, and the pizza is delivered.

Where’s Herb? – Burger King

In 1985 and 1986, Burger King initiated an unforgettable advertising campaign called “Where’s Herb?”

The fictional character, Herb, had never eaten a Whopper sandwich, Burger King’s signature hamburger, in his life!

Like a real-world Where’s Waldo book, Burger King was calling on fans and potential customers to find Herb and offer him a Whopper!

Interestingly, customers could receive a discount when ordering their meal at Burger King if they mentioned “I’m not Herb” in the course of ordering.

If you were the person to find Herb, then Burger King promised a prize! Sadly, the advertising campaign fizzled out due to a lack of interest in Herb.

Where’s the beef? – Wendy’s

Where’s the beef?” is a slogan for the notably sassy fast food chain Wendy’s, which first appeared in commercials in 1984.

The idea of posing the question, “Where’s the beef?” was to slam the Big Mac and Whopper for lacking substance and demonstrating to potential customers that Wendy’s offered a larger beef patty in their hamburger.

In one of the most popular commercials with the slogan, elder actress Clara Peller is offered a hamburger with a disproportionately larger bun with a small patty, which elicits Peller angrily to yell, “Where’s the beef?”

Wendy’s has maintained its reputation as a trickster on social media throughout the years.

Yo Quiero Taco Bell – Taco Bell

Taco Bell used a tiny chihuahua for its mascot between 1997 and 2000.

Gidget, the chihuahua, was voiced by Carlos Alazraqui. The initial commercial aired in September 1997. The little mascot stated plainly and unforgettably, “¡Yo Quiero Taco Bell!” or “I want Taco Bell!”

Almost immediately, the chihuahua became a notable figure in popular culture.

The mascot went on to star in more commercials for Taco Bell, and the fast food restaurant added two other catchphrases, “Drop the chalupa!” and “Viva Gorditas!”

Ultimately, Hispanic advocacy groups lobbied Taco Bell to remove the dog as a spokesdog because of cultural insensitivities.

His Most Enduring – Kentucky Fried Chicken

The face of KFC and fast food icon Colonel Sanders created his secret recipe for special herbs and spices that makes KFC’s chicken “finger-lickin’ good.”

Colonel Sanders was indeed a real individual who appeared in advertisements for KFC until his death. He is known for his enduring spirit of hospitality.

Kentucky Fried Chicken first began advertising in the United States market in 1966, and just ten years later, the company was one of the largest advertisers in the country.

Various comedians and celebrities, like Norm McDonald and Jason Alexander, have portrayed Colonel Sanders over the years.

Jared & Subway: The Beginning – Subway

Subway had a fantastic success story as an advertising campaign for nearly fifteen years.

Jared Fogle lost 245 pounds and contributed part of his success to his diet, which included Subway sandwiches. From 2000 to 2015, Fogle was featured in over 300 commercials.

The first commercial in the long collaboration shows Jared sitting on a bench and eating a Subway sandwich.

Subway’s pitch in the commercial says that Subway has seven sandwiches with only seven grams of fat or less, insinuating that, like Jared, if you eat at Subway, you can lose weight and be healthy.

Subway has since distanced itself from Fogle after he was charged and convicted with possession of child pornography.

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This Trademark Jingle – Popeyes

Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen is an American fast-food chain serving fried chicken.

It opened in 1972 in New Orleans, Louisiana, and continues to leverage its cajun foundation.

By the end of 2021, Popeyes will have 3,705 restaurants across the country. The restaurant has tasty menu options from biscuits to dirty rice to fried chicken.

Television and radio advertisements for Popeyes use New Orleans funk and jazz music, along with the trademark “Love That Chicken” jingle, which New Orleans musician Dr. John performs.

In 2009, Popeyes hired a spokeswoman to be the face of its chicken. Still, it maintained the jingle so often associated with its brand.

Very First Commercial – Pizza Hut

The very first pizza hut commercial is iconic. The advertisement aired on November 19, 1966.

Its first showing coincided with  halftime of the Michigan State vs. Notre Dame “Game of the Century.”

The timing of this commercial set the tone for Super Bowl commercials, the end-all-be-all of commercial advertising.

The commercial exponentially increased sales for Pizza Hut. “Putt-Putt to the Pizza Hut” continuously ran on television for eight years.

The commercial shows a man entering a small car and causing all sorts of mayhem on his way to pick up a pie from Pizza Hut.

“The Showdown” Bird vs. Jordan – McDonald’s

In 1993, McDonald’s released one of its best commercials. “The Showdown” features Larry Bird and Michael Jordan.

The two basketball superstars bring liveliness to the fast food commercial. It is one of the most well-received and memorable commercials in McDonald’s long advertising history.

The advertisement begins when Michael Jordan brings a Big Mac and French fries to the basketball court.

Larry Bird casually bounces a basketball, but when Jordan says he has McDonald’s for lunch, Bird challenges him to an epic shooting competition.

The two continue to make shots, and Jordan tells us, viewers, to buy a Big Mac.

Pac Man – Arbys

Arby’s collaborated with Pac-Man in one of their most successful fast-food commercials.

Even today, people search for the vintage Pac-Man glass that Arby’s distributed during the time this advertising campaign was running.

It is also one of the best examples of adding a tangible prize to an advertising campaign to draw in potential consumers.

The commercial, paired with the cool swag, meant Arby’s saw an influx of customers.

It is even more interesting when you remember their comparatively limited menu in the 1980s of nearly exclusively roast beef sandwiches.

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In more recent advertising, Arby’s has employed the slogan, “We have the meats,” to highlight its ever-expanding menu.

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Written by Brian Nagele

Brian attended West Virginia University, then started his career in the IT industry before following his passion for marketing and hospitality. He has over 20 years experience in the restaurant and bar industry.

As a former restaurant owner, he knows about running a food business and loves to eat and enjoy cocktails on a regular basis. He constantly travels to new cities tasting and reviewing the most popular spots.

Follow him on LinkedIn, Instagram, Quora, Google Guide and Facebook.