TV Ad Spend Weekly: March Madness? More like fast food frenzy

Ellie Kempner and Jane Krakowski add 'Unbreakable' humor to their Sonic debut / Kantar Media

Brands continue to invest heavily in above-the-line content, and television is still seen as the place brands want to be. Each week, in partnership with Kantar Media, The Drum looks at which brands have been investing the most on newly-launched creative on US national broadcast and cable TV.

Advertising spend on new broadcast placements increased by 26 percent the week of March 5th, reaching a total of $167 million. With NCAA March Madness around the corner, many advertisers bet on college basketball as the arena for debuting their new ads. Indeed, college games accounted for close to $10 million of new ad expenditures – more than any other single program during the week.

Apple knows its Spike Jonze-directed music video for the new HomePod device has been talked about a lot lately, so a cool million was spent in getting the word out on one of TV’s most talked about family dramas, NBC’s This is Us.

Walmart, this week’s top spender, debuted new spots to showcase its new selection of value brands.

But, this week is about food. Fast food. Quick Service Restaurants (QSR) dominated the top five this week, with Burger King, Sonic and McDonald’s all vying to get consumers in the door or drive-through.

Burger King spent its entire TV budget for the week on new advertising and took the top spot for the QSR category. The chain invested $4.8 million in promoting its new Spicy Crispy Chicken sandwich as part of its “2 for 6 Mix or Match” deal.

The runner-up spot went to Sonic, who also used 100% of its TV budget on new commercials. Sonic used celebrity spokeswomen Ellie Kemper and Jane Krakowski of Netflix series "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt" to sell burgers and shakes in comedic, improvised ads. The comic duo is set to star in six spots for the company over the coming months.

McDonald’s may have spent the least of the three QSRs on new ads with $3.7 million, but unlike its competitors, it only used 40 percent of its TV budget on new commercials. Looking at overall spend, McDonald’s beat both Burger King and Sonic with a total of $9.3 million of expenditures. This week, the restaurant used its new ads to promote a mix of products including breakfast, chicken tenders and Happy Meals.

See all of the new creative submitted from around the world in The Drum's Creative Works section.

If you have creative work to submit, please upload it here.

This data is part of ongoing reporting released on a weekly basis with Kantar Media using its AdScope tool.

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