Attention Food Snobs: The Mad Men Behind Applebee’s Don’t Want You!

Recently Applebee’s launched a new ad campaign. (It has Don Draper written all over it!) The tagline is “See You Tomorrow.” According to ADWEEK, it “positions Applebee’s as the champion of a sort of anti-foodie backlash, pitching fare that purports to be tasty, and simple, but still somewhat classy—for example, new summer dishes like Lemon Shrimp Fettucine and Florentine House Sirloin.” The TV commercials feature “chefs” with names like “Carl” who wax poetic over their ingredients only to be stopped by a voice from above: “Carl, you’re doing it again. You’re talking about tomatoes like they’re your children.”

The money quote from the piece: “It’s classic food porn with a faux-haute twist—a dinner bell for the happily apathetic.”

Fascinating stuff. Check out how many people it took to pull this campaign together: four Content Managers, three Cognitive Anthropologists, seven Creative Directors, and scads of “Peggys,” “Rogers,” and “Petes.”

One question. What is classic food porn? No, make that two. Are you happily apathetic?


  • Caitlin Giddens

    while i understand what applebee’s is attempting to say, no one should celebrate lowered standards. when should you ever accept, and in this case promote, being happily apathetic?

  • Amy S.

    In the meantime, Golden Corral (which I’ve never been to in my life) is luring us with promises of unlimited chocolate fountain fondue and (~shivers~) cotton candy.

  • Wanda

    Good for them. Foodies should be made fun of at every possible turn, the 5%ers as we like to call them or AKA “the fickle 500” are prime for that.

  • InsideEdition

    Wanda is right. Foodies are over.

  • LOL at Amy!

  • todd

    Not to defend Applebee’s, but I don’t think they or their ads are celebrating lower standards. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I did not hear, “instead of serving you garbage, we are going to serve you garbage with a side of steamed botulism.”

    Happily apathetic was not quoted in the article so I assume that was the genius of the author, Gabriel Beltrone. I’m no journalism major, so again feel free to correct.

    Funny + true = “pretentiousness of the food zealots.”

  • Amy S

    @Todd. You made me smile like only a foie gras steak can.

  • KerryDP

    They are trying to appeal to the suburban household. I live downtown and I can’t even tell you where the closest Applebee’s is – Richardson I think? When we get conventions, the Fridays in the West End is overflowing while other places struggle, because people see the familiar sign and say “Oh, my kids will eat that!” Parents will do anything to avoid the argument of trying to get their kids to widen their pallets – especially while traveling. (P.S. True food porn is that picture Lou Malnati’s posted on facebook yesterday!)

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  • James

    @KerryDP Unfortunately there’s an Applebee’s closer than you would think, at the intersection of NW Highway & Skillman. Right next to the Target, which is right next to Walmart, right next to the other Target. And the CiCi’s pizza. It’s basically like a mini-suburb within the city.

  • Borborygmus

    Based on recent criticisms, you can expect the following changes to Applebee’s menu as it’s (no-longer) secret strategy to keep food snobs away:

    First, spring mix will be a component on every salad (mostly washed but no guarantees). And proteins will be allowable upgrades on each salad, to include (but not limited to): hot proteins in summer, and cold proteins in winter. Instead of fresh salmon, blackened tilapia ($8) will be the new powerhouse topping. House dressings will include balsamic or raspberry vinaigrettes.

    Second, appetizers. Braised shortribs will be new to the appetizer menu, moved there from the entrees. Soaked in a honey poblano banana chipotle lime marinade it’s grilled and served with an accompanying cranberry jalapeno relish. Upgrades to the seafood offerings will double the size of their calamari appetizer by adding mussels and blackened tilapia on toast points. In keeping with recent competitive trends, they are also offering Japanese-styled rolls, including new specialties for the kids – The State Fair Roll (deep fried cotton candy wrapped in seaweed and rice) and the Chocolate Lotus roll (State Fair Roll covered in chocolate). With 25 different rolls to choose from, there’s one for everyone! For the gluten intolerant there’s the Meatloaf Mountain roll with mashed potatoes instead of rice.

    Finally, entrees. What can be said. With farmed salmon, chicken breask, steak, scallops and a pork chop already on the menu, few changes needed tobe made here. Except now they will allow chicken added ($4) to any pasta dish – unless you’d rather have blackened tilapia ($8). Side choice changes include the addition of off-season produce stir-fry, or a small side salad of spring mix (mostly washed, but no guarantee). Other sides to be expanded include your choice of macaroni or mashed potatoes combined with one of the following (add $3 for each additional): bleu cheese, bacon, krab, Dorito’s, capers or Twizzlers (don’t knock it until you’ve tried it).

  • Jo Bennett

    Not that anyone cares but this is one of the worst chains with the worst food on a menu consistantly.