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We all know that advertising is a huge part of the fast food industry. But just how big of a role does it play?

According to recent statistics, fast food chains spend about $5 billion on advertising each year. That’s a lot of money! And what are they spending it on? Mostly television and radio commercials, followed by print ads and then online ads.

So next time you’re craving some fries or a burger, keep in mind that you’re also being targeted by a multimillion dollar advertising campaign.

Today, we’ll take a look into fast food advertising statistics. Read on!!!

What Fast Food Restaurant Spent The Most Money In 2021 For Advertising

Domino’s Pizza is the big spender when it comes to fast food advertising in 2021. The pizza chain spent $510 million on ads, outspending McDonald’s, which spent $409 million.

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, as Domino’s has been working hard in recent years to revamp its image and become a more prominent player in the fast food industry. 

This includes a heavy focus on technology, with initiatives like “Domino’s Anywhere” that allow customers to order pizza through their phones or smart TVs.

It’ll be interesting to see if Domino’s can hold onto its spot as top ad spender next year – or if McDonald’s will make a comeback. Either way, it’s clear that both companies are willing to invest heavily in marketing and advertising to stay competitive.

On this page you will find:

Key Finding On Fast Food Advertising Statistics

  • About $240.68 spent on food advertisement and among that $5 billion spent on fast food items. (Fast Food Fact Report 2021)
  • Fast food tv ads disproportionately target Black and Hispanic youth such Black youth viewed 75% more ads than their white peers and 33% increase Spanish language tv ads spent.
  • 1% healthy menu item advertise by fast food restaurant.
  • 56% high calories items advertise by fast food restaurant.
  • More then 2 fast food ads viewed each day by age of 2-17.
  • $5.0 billion were spent on the advertisement of Fast food items in 2019, which was 9% up over the year 2012, in 2012 $4.6 billion were spent.
  • 91% of the total amount spent on advertising was on TV commercials that were 68% on national TV and 23% on spot TV.
  • Radio and outdoor advertising spending declined (32% and 7%, respectively), while digital advertising increased by 74%. 

1. One-third of children have eaten food or drinks from restaurants that serve fast food and 12 percent of them usually eat food from any of the full-service restaurants.

(Center for Science In Public Interest)

Fast food and drinks are becoming more popular among children, who are getting more used to them. Fast-food restaurants and food chains have recognized the potential market of children and adolescents, and as a result, they are increasing their expenditures on promoting their products to children and adolescents. As a consequence, children are growing increasingly interested in fast food and sugary drinks, which may not always meet the nutritional requirements for children, but which they have been used to eating and drinking.

2. Preschool TV and Kids’ channels are the ways that restaurants use to directly advertise to children aging less than 12 years. 

(UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity)

Due to the rise in the amount of time children spend in front of screens across the globe, there is no better medium for advertising food to children than television. Children under the age of 12 are in the process of learning new things, and preschool television shows are recommended to be seen for educational reasons by their parents. These food advertisements that are shown on these channels are almost certain to be seen by a large number of children at various points throughout the day.

3. Black preschoolers, children, and teens had watched 75% more fast-food advertisements on TV as compared to White children and teens. In 2012 60% of black kids saw fast food V ads and in 2019 it became 75%.

(UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity)

This statistic does not imply that black children watch more television as a result of which they have watched more advertisements; rather, it indicates that more advertisements were aired on those channels that are primarily watched by black audiences as a result of which the rate of viewing food advertisements increased by 15% in 2018. According to the study, black and Hispanic children consume more fast food than white children, resulting in increased daily calorie consumption in these children, potentially leading to an alarming obesity scenario among black and Hispanic children.

4. McDonald’s, Domino’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, Sonic, and Little Caesars were the restaurants responsible for 46% of total advertising spendings in 2019, and almost 55% of fast-food ads that were made were aired on TV and watched by children and teens.

(UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity)

The reality that children and teenagers are the most targetable market in the fast-food business, and that major fast-food corporations such as McDonald’s and comparable eateries are taking full advantage of this fact by increasing their advertising expenditures. It is estimated that the expense of advertising for McDonald’s alone in the globe is about 654.7 million US dollars. These restaurants are achieving success via their advertising efforts because they understand which segments of the population to target with their ads..

5. On television alone children see about 13 food ads every single day, and teens see about 16.

(Obesity Action)

Fast food ads are flashing after every few minutes on the TV screens and children and teens who have a high screen time on TV are the ones to see more of these ads.

Also, kids and teens are highly exposed to food ads through social media and YouTube because there are kids who spend more than an hour watching videos on these platforms. Because people are spending more time on social media, social media ads are a great way to reach a broad audience.

6. Fast food is the most frequently advertised food and beverage category to children and teens, representing 40% of all youth-directed food marketing expenditures.

(UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity)

The only meal that teenagers are interested in is fast-food burgers and pizza, as well as any other fast-food item they can get their hands on quickly. One group is satisfied by these quick meals, while the other group is inspired to eat most of these fast foods because they have seen video reviews posted on social media by their friends or favorite influencers. Thus, the fast food business spends almost half of its advertising budget on advertisements that target teenagers and young children.

7. In 2012, six billion fast-food advertisements appeared on Facebook.

(Obesity Action)

Because individuals spend a significant amount of time on social media platforms, there is no better location to see ads than on social media platforms. Not only are they spending time there, but they are also being associated with their favorite products, whether they be food, clothes, or anything else. Facebook has the number one position among social media platforms, and it generates significant income from advertising, garnering $69 billion in revenue from adverts alone in 2019.

8. With 624 million U.S. dollars in ad expenditures, McDonald’s spent most on advertising in the United States.


When it comes to quick service restaurants, McDonald’s, a well-known brand for fast food, is the one that spends the most money on marketing. In order to remind their consumers of their food products and services on a consistent basis and to outperform their rivals in the market, these restaurant chains are promoting themselves to the whole globe.

9. Those exposed to food advertising chose 28% more unhealthy snacks than those exposed to non-food-advertising.

(BMC Public Health)

Food advertisements have a highly long-lasting effect on the human mind, which is why when people view advertisements for item, it causes them to want the food they are seeing. As a result of this desire, they select foods that are detrimental to their well-being. The lavish presentation of food in advertising has become a significant factor in attracting people’s attention to these products and services.

10. Kids watching educational YouTube videos are under the more subliminal impact of ads such as those videos that use M&Ms and Coke bottles to teach counting.

(Huff Post)

In today’s world, advertisements can be found everywhere, and they have the ability to capture your subconscious mind, such as the advertisements we see while watching a video on social media or the posters we see at bus stops. People do not pay attention to these advertisements, but they are constantly leaving their imprint on their minds, and food advertisements are the most effective of all the advertisements that you see.

Final Thought

On the one hand, the firms understand how to attract customers to their fast food restaurants, and they are making extensive use of advertising to persuade more people to return to them time and time again to satisfy their craving. Another point of worry is that these advertisements are mostly directed at children, and as a consequence, childhood obesity is on the rise throughout the United States. We cannot argue that commercials have no influence on our and our children’s food choices because they are designed to tempt you to buy those fast food goods over and over again.


UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity

Healthy Eating Research (HER)

Center for Science In Public Interest

Obesity Action

Center For Disease And Preventions

PPC Protect


BMC Public Health

Huff Post

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