Applebee’s Campaign: Use Social Media “Against” Social Media

With go-to case like Old Spice’s “The Man Your Man Could Smell Like” campaign, now corporations can count on social media to raise brand awareness. But does the recipe for going viral simply writes hilarious and provocative videos on YouTube? Apparently, Applebee’s multi-platform digital campaign this year missed some secret ingredients.

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This June, Applebee’s Lexington, Kentucky-based franchise and Cornett Integrated Marketing Solutions conducted a “Life is Better Shared” campaign, highlighting a series of “Girl’s Night Out Goddess” YouTube video pseudo tutorials in which an abrasive woman poke fun of her female friend being online. Compared to Old Spice’s virality—6.7 million views in just 24 hours, the campaign of Applebee’s has turned out to be a controversial and limited-attention one (around 50,000 views). And Cornett had to make a statement clarifying that “We all know we spend a lot of time online. Our message is about balance.”

Still, they got some “Fantastic” reviews since they did something right. To start with, the content is original (although the idea of using fun video is not a fresh one) and entertaining. For seriously?” the Goddess would break in during the pseudo tutorials. It did bring me a good laughter when I heard something like “Are you seriously watching an online video about being online?” And the campaign is based on a survey on their Facebook page showing fewer females hang out with friends nowadays. Although the survey may not be very thorough or scientific, it is true that no great campaigns can be achieved without research on your target audience. Besides, it’s never a bad idea for corporations to outsource and hire a professional agency like Cornett.

However, Applebee’s failed to deliver a clear and convincing message mainly for two reasons. One is the use of confusing slogan, which caused many to argue we tend to share more online than offline. They didn’t bring the “balance of life” idea until they tried to appease viewers who are irritated by their condescending manner. This brings us to the second reason, which is how they said it. Audience would never like being judged, period.

It is tough to break the clutter in social media campaign for people won’t laugh at the same joke. And companies don’t want to go viral the other way, so we should always be careful of what we say and how we say it. Be creative, provocative, but not offensive.Image