Fast food giant likes spot TV because of its ability to customize ads and because it's usually a better value than spot cable.

YUM Brands is reluctant to spill the beans on its spot TV spending. But the fast food giant clearly has a growing appetite for local broadcast. And with a bit of prodding, the company’s Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut divisions provide a little insight as to why.

On the Television Bureau of Advertising’s latest list of the top 10 spot advertisers, YUM Brands leaps out as one of only three to boost spending in the fourth quarter of 2005. The increase: 18%.

For KFC, which spends $280 million annually in spot TV, its double-digit increase reflects a periodic swing from national to local, according to a company spokesperson. In the fourth quarter of ’04, the spending was all national, but last fall, KFC opted for the “local option window” as it does in certain years and quarters. “It’s all a matter of our calendar timing,” the spokesperson noted. “It all averages out to our standard spend.”

At Taco Bell, on the other hand, local sports and spot TV’s ability to target ethnic audiences account for the increases in the fourth quarter and last year as a whole. “Local sports opportunities can play a powerful role in the local media mix, offering customization [and] added value, while delivering hard-to-reach consumers,” explains Juliet Corsinita, senior manager, Taco Bell Media Services. “Local is also an excellent way to target individual market demographic skews, [such as] Hispanic, African American.”

Spot buys in local sports also offer good value, Corsinita says. “Spot cable can be problematic due to high ADS penetration and spot prime can be cost prohibitive in some markets.”

Meanwhile, at Pizza Hut, Julie Hildebrand confirms the company’s spot TV spending rose 4% in the fourth quarter and 5% overall last year. With “local market preferences and competitive pressures varying across the country,” local TV “allows us to tailor messaging by market,” she says.


Hildebrand wouldn’t talk about future spending. “Our spending strategies are a function of our marketing news and the competitive climate,” she says. “We do not divulge forward plans to avoid tipping our hand to the competition.”

YUM’s interest in TV stations extends beyond the 30-second spot. Asked if Taco Bell is considering stations Web sites and other new platforms, Corsinita says that YUM brands are “actively monitoring” the latest developments, including “how our consumers use the new screens and react to advertising. We are interested in how the new local broadcast platforms can potentially drive the Taco Bell business in the future.”                                                                                                                  


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