“We believe we’ve created a real compelling idea that combines the real world of Applebee’s and the world of virtual artwork that combines to make a really fun engagement for our guests and our fans,” Joel Yashinsky, chief marketing officer for Applebee’s, said in an interview. “The combination of having a real meal, plus the virtual engagement of a piece of art—that is what makes this differentiated from what others are doing in this space.”
Applebee’s said it would offer new “Meta Monday” deals on Mondays in December, showcasing new art and different menu items. The company said it would share details on the associated menu and artists as they go live.
Applebee’s created the Meta Monday campaign in partnership with creative agency Grey Group and media partner Current.
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Numerous restaurant brands have experimented with NFTs and other forms of crypto-marketing in recent months, including McDonald’s, Taco Bell and Burger King. “We’re excited to see where this all leads,” said Yashinsky.
Vittoria’s artwork, entitled “Sharing Dreams,” is inspired by her teenage visits to her local Applebee’s with friends, where they would share their dreams for the future while sharing a meal.
Applebee’s has recovered strongly from the pandemic, with same-store sales up by 12.5% vs. the same period in pre-pandemic 2019 during its most recently reported fiscal second quarter. A series of successful and high-profile promotions was a part of the success, according to Yashinsky.
Applebee’s got a fortunate boost by way of the country singer Walker Hayes, whose summer hit song “Fancy Like” lauded the virtues of an Applebee’s date night and led to a promotional deal with the chain. The restaurant also crafted an exclusive partnership with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to use the wrestler-actor’s premium tequila brand Teremana in a revamped drink menu, and executed a deal with Disney that rewarded diners with free tickets to the “Jungle Cruise” movie.
“I had more fun at Applebee’s over the last year than I have in all of my 25-year marketing career,” said Yashinsky, who came to the Dine Brands-owned chain following 18 years in marketing roles with McDonalds.