Ace Metrix, a firm that studies television advertising effectiveness, revealed that Dairy Queen, which has broken seven new ads this year, has been the most effective quick-service restaurant TV advertiser YTD. Dairy Queen has an average Ace Score of 618, compared to an industry average of 578.

Ace score is the measure of ad creative effectiveness based on viewer reaction to national TV ads. Respondents are randomly selected and representative of the U.S. TV viewing audience. The results are presented on a scale of 0-950, which represents scoring on creative attributes such as relevance, persuasion, watchability, information, and attention.

Subway, which has launched more new ads (19) than any other QSR this year, had the most successful single ad (Ace Score of 655), which touted the hazards of eating “greasy fast foods."

“It’s interesting to see Dairy Queen beat the behemoths, including McDonald’s, which has just recently reintroduced Ronald McDonald for the first time since last year,” says Peter Daboll, CEO of Ace Metrix.

“Subway’s frequency of new ads and commitment to creative messaging this year has also clearly paid off," Daboll says, "as four of its ads were among the top 10 most effective ads YTD, along with four from Dairy Queen, one from Wendy’s, and one from Baskin Robbins.”

Subway’s Ace scores have moved from a low of 470 in October to consistently above 600 in recent months.

McDonald’s, recently deemed the "Most Valuable Fast Food Brand" globally by Millward Brown’s 2011 BrandZ study, has been quite aggressive in introducing new creative, with 16 new ads in 2011. However, none of these ads received high enough Ace Scores to rank among the top 10.

Subway, which launched 19 new ads this year, is McDonald’s nearest competitor in terms of ad volume. Unlike McDonald’s, though, Subway’s commitment to creative volume has paid off, as it was the fifth most effective QSR advertiser and had four ads in the yop 10 QSR ads to-date.

“McDonald’s creative messaging, including its recent reintroduction of Ronald McDonald, has fallen rather flat so far. Food shots, which these Ronald ads lack, can be a major driver of desire in QSR ads, which could be one contributor to the low overall effectiveness scores,” Daboll says. “But McDonald’s fragmented messages and targeting, which has led to a rather garbled message, is likely the bigger problem. Advertisers need to realize that their ads hit all types of consumers, regardless of the core target. These ads have a cumulative effect in building or detracting from a brand.

“The recent ‘picture frame’ ad featuring Ronald performed better than the ‘Ronald McDonald Smiles Online’ ad, and both ads certainly appealed to a younger demographic—the group McDonald’s appears to be targeting with ads on Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network,” Daboll says.

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