The 10 Best Restaurant Ads of All Time

The 10 Best Restaurant Ads of All Time

Every marketer wants to create a memorable advertisement with an expanded shelf life that speaks to customers. That, of course, is easier said than done. Occasionally, someone knocks it out of the park with a timeless twist on a product that is clever, emotional, informative and more.

In the restaurant industry, here are 10 of the all-time best efforts:

McDonald’s: You Deserve a Break Today

The lyrics remain a timeless, TV classic: “You deserve a break today, so hurry up and get away ...” It would be hard to find a long-time TV watcher who is not aware that the person in the ad plans to "get away" to McDonald's. This commercial first aired in the 1970s as part of McDonald’s first national TV campaign and wound up on the short list of most-memorable TV jingles ever written. The company held onto the "You Deserve a Break Today" phrase for 43 years before surrendering the rights to the trademark in 2017. According to Ad Age, it is the top-rated advertising jingle of all time.

Mr. Spriggs BBQ

As a local commercial that morphed into national fame, this is a more modern phenomenon. John C. Reilly and the Roots performed a cover of the jingle on the Tonight Show starring Jimmy Fallon, which triggered multiple Internet memes of the R&B performer singing about the best barbecue in Oklahoma City. The catchline includes this lyrical announcement: "S-P-R-I-G-G-S ... When I’m dealing with Mr. Spriggs, I only deal with the best.”

Hiltl Restaurants

As a venue that as served vegetarian food for more than 117 years, Hiltl is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world. The company's image of a wolf with bunny teeth is both well-designed and clever. Also chuckle-worthy is the text, “Here, everyone loves vegetarian food."

Domino’s Pizza: Carry-Out Insurance

The short, concise, commercial about offering carry-out insurance for a pizza that was left on the trunk or roof of a car as the customer drives out of the parking lot is memorable and funny. It pokes fun at a silly thing that most everyone has done at some point.

Legal Sea Foods

Based in Boston, Legal Sea Foods has some of the most well-known advertising campaigns across multiple industries because they are willing to be clever and, at times, controversial. Their ads always seek to remain relevant and witty, regardless of what controversy they may create. Each ad includes the memorable slogan, “If it isn’t fresh it isn’t legal.” It hits all the right points for an all-time classic.

Wendy’s: Where’s the Beef?

Representing a shift in the fast-food industry away from frozen beef, Wendy’s classic “Where’s the Beef?” campaign launched a major turnaround in the fast-food industry. The little old lady driving furiously from one restaurant to another to find fresh beef from a fast-food establishment would become a major icon for the restaurant. The slogan triggered a popular T-shirt. At the time the commercial was at its zenith of popularity, the president of Wendy’s called the “Where’s the Beef” advertising success the company's “grand-slam, home run, bottom-of-the-ninth-in-the-World-Series.”

King Donut Teriyaki Laundromat

Sometimes, simplicity and creativity align nicely. That is the case with the King Donut Teriyaki Laundromat. The name identifies exactly what they do: combine a donut shop, a teriyaki restaurant, and a laundromat under one roof. After almost closing in 2016, the venue was revived at the last minute when new owners swooped in to save the day and keep the place with the time-tested jingle in business.

Yo! Sushi

When you’re selling sushi, you should emphasize the fact that your fish is fresh. Yo! Sushi does this by illustrating the fresh salmon from which your roll is coming in a catchy print ad. The ad is sleek, simple, and eye-catching. All of that makes it memorable and effective.

McDonald’s: The Showdown

Created in 1993, this iconic McDonald's commercial featured NBA legends Michael Jordan and Larry Bird locked in a furious, back-and-forth basketball duel. Named by Time Magazine as one of the most influential Super Bowl commercials of all time, the players continued topping one another with difficult shots that were successful and coined the phrase, “Nothing but net.” As Time pointed out, the buzz phrase has become “one of the most recognizable phrases in the sports world, permeating other pop culture arenas.”

Chipotle: Back to the Start

Launched in conjunction with the 2012 Grammy Awards telecast, this Chipotle commercial was emotional and well-animated. The "Back to the Start" message represented something much larger than the Chipotle brand and its altruistic feel is evident throughout the commercial's 2-minute, 20-second duration. The commercial won the first branded content Grand Prix at the Cannes Film Festival and earned a spot on AdAge’s Top 15 Advertisements of the 21st Century.