FCB Develops American Flavor for Applebee’s Ads

Applebee’s pushes its “America’s favorite neighbor” positioning in a debut campaign from Foote, Cone & Belding that plays off the casual eating chain’s American-style food.
“As American as Applebee’s” is the tag. The first spot, bowing Feb. 13, combines the new brand position with a promotion for sirloin skillet meals.
The ad shows cowboys on horseback and around a campfire to back the skillet meals. Future spots could use similar regional imagery, said Karen Eadon, client senior vice president of marketing. “It’s very extendible,” she said of the theme.
FCB, Chicago, won the $36 million creative account in July. The other review finalists were Campbell Mithun Esty, Minneapolis and The Richards Group, Dallas. The Overland Park, Kan., company at the same time handed media planning and buying to Western Initiative Media Worldwide in Los Angeles.
Spending is more than double last year’s, with a heavier dose of network prime time, including top-rated shows such as Ally McBeal and ER. Spot buys will also be made, said Ellen Oberman, FCB group account director.
The tag under Wyse Advertising in Cleveland had been “You belong at Applebee’s.” The new concept was one of three FCB offered during its final pitch. “The notion is to celebrate the food and to celebrate America,” Oberman said.
Wunderman Cato Johnson, Chicago, created in-store work and newspaper inserts.