5 Hilarious Food Advertising Moments to Kick-off 2019

The new year is here, and with it comes new and exciting ideas from the world of food advertising and marketing. In the year ahead, we’ll continue to monitor creative trends and publish a sampling of noteworthy recent work that has caught our eye.

For our first installment of 2019, we turn our attention to the world of QSR. This highly competitive category always seems to be pushing the limits of creative food marketing, often through means of humorous, sharable content that pokes fun at competitors or even oneself. Here are a few efforts that have broken through the clutter and gained attention for brands in unique, lighthearted ways.

Food FashionFood Fashion and Decor

In the latest effort by marketers to engage younger consumers, food and fashion has become all the rage. Clothing lines that embrace both style and hipster irony have been created by brands ranging from McDonald’s to IHOP to KFC and more. Taco Bell’s line at Forever 21 stores includes swimsuits styled as Hot Sauce packets, while IHOP has created a line of Pancake-wear, and KFC is putting its ubiquitous campy Colonel to work on everything from hoodies to pillow cases. Hey, people have been wearing fashion logos for years, so why not food brands?

Dunkin “Cappu-chinos”

In light of the above information, you might be tempted to think that a commercial for Dunkin’s new line of espresso-themed clothing is simply another example of wearable eats. But a closer examination reveals it to be simply a fun and humorous satire, produced in the style of a clothing spot akin to brands like Levi’s Dockers. Unfortunately, Dunkin’s “Cappu-chinos,” Americano-veralls” and “Latte-nk Top” are not actually available for purchase. Too bad, as they appear to be a highly practical way of carrying coffee.

Burger King “Whopper Detour”

If you want to be the King, you can’t be afraid to troll the leader. And that’s exactly what Burger King did with a clever new smartphone app. The app unlocked when it detected users driving to a McDonald’s, delivering them a special offer of a Whopper for a penny at said McDonald’s, where they presumably would be directed to Burger King by the McDonald’s employees. The app currently has a total of over 6 million downloads to date, placing it among the most popular free apps in iTunes. The stunt also provided material for a fun, hidden camera-type commercial.

KFC “Twitter Burn”

After a tweet roasting KFC for its subpar fries, the brand somewhat inexplicably built an entire ad campaign that seemed to support the haters. Many Twitter users first noticed the campaign when they spotted KFC actually promoting the tweet, along with others that dissed the quality of their fries. As it turns out, the head-scratching ads were done to tease an upcoming campaign for KFC’s new and improved fries. Guess P.T. Barnum was right: There’s no such thing as bad publicity.

Carl's Jr_Stars Celeste Barber

Carl’s, Jr. “Famous Stars Eating Famous Stars”

Another brand seemingly unafraid to have some fun at their own expense is Carl’s, Jr. Some years back, Carl’s ran an infamous commercial featuring Paris Hilton suggestively washing a Bentley. Since then, they’ve changed their sexist ways, and to prove it, they’re now poking fun at the spot with the help of comedic Instagram star Celeste Barber. Barber recreates the notorious ad in her own inimitable style, but this time washing a station wagon with family car window decals. Considering that 5 million Instagramers already follow her to watch her skewer vapid celebrities and fashion, it’s pretty much perfect casting.

McDonalds “Timeless Big Mac”

Finally, McDonald’s famed Big Mac turned fifty this year, and what better way to celebrate than with a look back at its history. Their cheeky campaign uses simple mock retro photos of fashions and hairdos from the Big Mac’s early years, dating from the 70’s and 80’s. The posters do a good job of conveying the Big Mac’s enduring legacy and popularity, and make us remember a simpler time when we all apparently had terrible taste in everything except burgers.

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Kirk Evans VP/Associate Creative Director EvansHardy+Young
Kirk Evans, VP/Assoc Creative Director

Kirk held senior creative positions at McCann-Erickson and Ogilvy in Los Angeles before joining EvansHardy+Young over 20 years ago. He has produced award winning work for multiple EHY Clients including Idaho Potatoes, California Walnuts and several restaurant chains. Previous clients included American Express, Coca-Cola, Columbia Pictures and Post Cereals. Despite being born and bred in New Jersey, Kirk is an enthusiastic surfer.