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Posts Tagged ‘Applebee’s’

Heart Attack Grill Loses Its Second Spokesman to a Heart Attack

Heart Attack Grill When it comes to effective branding, we usually fall back on the old frat boy maxim “go hard or go home”. In other words, don’t be ashamed of who you are. If you’re Applebee’s, embrace your own mediocrity! If you’re “extramarital dating site” Ashley Madison, take out an ad to remind everyone how trashy you want to be! If you’re Las Vegas’s Heart Attack Grill, make the most of the fact that a disproportionate number of your biggest fans have, in fact, died of heart disease!

Wait, what?

That’s right. Heart Attack Grill–best known for cheeky product names like “Quadruple Bypass Burger” and “Flatliner Fries”, waitresses who dress like sexy ICU nurses and taglines reading “anyone over 350 lbs eats free” and “cash only: because you might die before the check clears”–lost its unofficial spokesman to a heart attack last week. What’s worse, this potential PR disaster comes less than two years after the restaurant’s official spokesman died of the very same cause at the ripe old age of 29. Oh, and one year ago a third customer suffered cardiac arrest while trying to finish that famous massive burger.

Truth in advertising!

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How Should Applebee’s Respond to Its Ongoing PR Crisis?

In case you haven’t heard, quite a few people on the Internet are upset at Applebee’s right now for its actions in the tale of the obnoxiously self-righteous customer. After the story blew up, the company went strangely silent on social media, but on Friday its PR team got pro-active, releasing an official statement from the company president and choosing Facebook as the best forum in which to respond.

There’s a reason for this: Ad Week recently named Applebee’s as the most “socially devoted” restaurant brand on Facebook. But this story has proven to be its greatest social media challenge: “What’s the Buzz”, a homepage feature showcasing tweets about the brand in real-time, has been overwhelmingly negative for the past few days.

The new damage control effort began with this post:

The message goes on to clarify that the fired server violated company policy by publicly sharing a receipt on which the customer’s name was visible, thereby compromising her privacy (they added that the customer’s party did in fact pay the 18% gratuity required). Since then, the post has inspired almost 25,000 comments.

This crisis is not over.

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PR Fail: Applebee’s Fires Server Who Shared Obnoxious Tip-Free Receipt

Anyone who has ever worked in a restaurant should be able to relate to this viral story: Last week a pastor at a St. Louis-area church took her congregation to dinner at Applebee’s after the service. Apparently unaware that 18% gratuities are standard practice for parties of six or more at every restaurant ever, the pastor refused to pay the total.

Even worse, she scrawled a note on the receipt explaining her decision. It read: “I give God 10%. Why do you get 18″. The understandably pissed server took a picture and a second waitress shared it on Reddit under the headline “My mistake sir, I’m sure Jesus will pay for my rent and groceries”.

Then things got a little crazy.

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Applebee’s Makes the Most of Its ‘Casual’ Reputation

Club Applebee'sAsk the average guy on the street for a prime example of a generic, mediocre “casual dining” chain and chances are very good that he’ll name Applebee’s, The Olive Garden, or both (though you might get the occasional Outback Steakhouse or T.G.I. Friday’s).

These restaurants often do pretty good business, but we think you’ll agree: they have something of an image problem. Yet Applebee’s, also known as the microwave industry’s best friend, has witnessed big sales growth over the past two years.

How? Let’s call it self-acceptance.

Julia Stewart, CEO of parent company DineEquity, uses her recent Fast Company interview to talk about selling locations to local operators, yada yada, but her main point involves embracing the fact that people tend to make fun of Applebee’s (if they mention it at all).

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Execs’ Anti-Obama Rants Hurt Restaurant Brands

Papa John's CEO Several men who work as managers and CEOs of chain restaurants don’t much care for President Obama’s signature health insurance law—and they haven’t been shy about letting everyone know it via their respective media megaphones.

Their outrage may have something to do with the fact that chain restaurants, despite employing millions of Americans, very often do not provide health insurance for their workers. While these men have every right to voice their outrage, a recent YouGov BrandIndex report implies that their opinions may be hurting their brands.

Examples from the past month:

  • An owner of several Applebee’s branches claimed that “…we won’t build more restaurants. We won’t hire more people” due to the additional costs of insuring employees via “Obamacare.”
  • A south Florida man who runs several Denny’s and Dairy Queen locations discussed his plans to add a 5% surcharge to all orders in order to cover the anticipated cost of the legislation, telling customers that “if they really feel so inclined, they can reduce the amount of tip they give to the server, who is the primary beneficiary of Obamacare.”
  • After reports led some to believe that Obamacare would force him to close stores, fire workers and raise prices, Papa John’s CEO (and major Mitt Romney fundraiser) John Schnatter recently took to The Huffington Post to clarify his statements on the matter, writing that everybody just needs to calm down because all of his restaurants plan to “honor the law.”

There’s little doubt that these statements paint the men who made them as jackasses, yet the YouGov brand report hints that the damage runs deeper: these execs’ anti-Obamacare rants have led the public to lose respect for their brands.

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Applebee’s, Olive Garden Paying for a Round of Drinks

Don’t they card people to avoid these sorts of mistakes? Maybe the sippy cups should’ve been a sign that these customers were underage?

Olive Garden and Applebee’s are feeling the fever because they’ve served alcohol to small kids. They say it was just a crazy oversight, but as  publicist Katherine Paine tells USA Today, “The problem is, it’s too good a story. It’s got babies, alcohol and food.” All things that get massive amounts of attention.

The USA Today story includes a few tips for avoiding this sort of error in the future. “Retrain staff. ’Every employee is a PR rep,’ says crisis guru Jonathan Bernstein. ‘These incidents prove how many crises start with line workers,’” reads one of the bullets. And both restaurants say they’ve changed their policies. Now they have to keep getting the word out that they’re sorry, they’ve changed, and ride out the media frenzy.

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