Applebee's rolls out new ad campaign

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Johnson, however, said they are not meant to poke fun at other brands. “We wanted to be able to say we take food seriously, but we didn’t want to do it in a serious way,” she said.

In one of Applebee’s new commercials for the new Florentine House Sirloin, for example, a chef walks through a sunny tomato field, launching into a passionate explanation of the lycopene content before he is stopped by a voice-over that urges him to stop boring viewers by “talking about tomatoes like they’re your children.”

The ad then cuts to glamour shots of the dish being prepared and notes the recommended starting price of the new summer menu items of $9.99, followed by the tagline, “See you tomorrow.”

The campaign has also incorporated elements of training, said Johnson. Front-of-the-house staff are now encouraged to watch dishes being prepared and to taste them all, so when guests ask, “they’ll be able to say they have a favorite,” said Johnson.

The “Flavors of Summer” menu includes fresh ingredients new to Applebee’s, such as artichoke hearts, grilled asparagus and fresh blueberries, as well as an emphasis on more in-house preparations.

New limited-time dishes include:

Lemon Shrimp Fettuccine: The pasta dish includes seared shrimp, artichokes, tomatoes, sautéed spinach, basil and a roasted garlic cream sauce topped with Parmesan cheese and a gremolata of garlic, parsley and lemon zest, which is made in-house daily.

Garlic Rosemary Chicken Pasta: For this dish, a “scratch-made-daily” bruschetta is cooked down to a light sauce, topped with a grilled chicken breast and artichokes, oven-roasted tomatoes, grilled asparagus and sautéed Portobello mushrooms. The dish is garnished with chopped fresh rosemary and fresh-squeezed lemon and butter.

Seasonal Berry & Spinach Salad: This salad brings strawberries to the savory side of Applebee’s menu for the first time along with blueberries, an ingredient that's new to the chain. The berries top a spinach salad with a strawberry vinaigrette along with grilled chicken breast, blue cheese crumbles and honey-glazed pecans.

Florentine House Sirloin: A seven-ounce grilled sirloin is topped with fresh spinach, sliced mushrooms, onions and bruschetta over red potatoes that have been steamed, fried and seasoned in house.

Because Applebee’s is a mostly franchised brand, franchisees set their own pricing. But the summer lineup starts at a recommended $9.99 for the Garlic Rosemary Chicken pasta, Johnson said.

Contact Lisa Jennings at lisa.jennings@penton.com.
Follow her on Twitter: @livetodineout