Applebee's. A corporation desperate for renovated image has crafted perhaps the most uninformed ad campaign ever. If you haven't seen it, John Corbett voices the standard "look at our Tyler Florence-influenced menu with burgers and fries" montages, but with two very, very noticeable differences.
First: the new "Applebee's Trio" is referred to as a "killer app", and second, the logo is visibly morphed from the age old Apple and thick font to a newer one that has undergone clear w2206n. It has an apple that looks like it was designed by 37signals and the font has switched to a cleaner, less "drawn" and more "typed" look with a clean, solid sheen green that was picked from the web pallet.
Which, on the surface, you think: "Well, they are just changing with the times. After all, they changed the slogan too, to 'Its a whole new neighborhood.'" But that's just not true. What is true is they have been misled into believing that is what they are doing, but instead, they are throwing money down a big, empty hole.
Here are the three possible audiences for this advertisement:
1 – regular Americans who already patronize Applebee's and wouldn't know the phrase "killer app" from "killer bee". In which case, the ad is just another montage of vaguely appetizing mini-burgers and beer.
2 – people who consciously recognize what is going on. This is people like you and me, who hear the phrase "killer app" applied to sliders and fries and think "WTF??? Really? Who came up with that crap?" Then we see the logo change, and are just perplexed. It is such a mis-application of the concepts that we are turned away from the product, instead of toward it.
3 – people who subconsciously recognize the phrase and the logo change. This is the kids, maybe 20 and under, who have been inundated in tech culture all their lives, who recognize memes and technical phrases as part of their lexicon, but who may or may not recognize their specific manifestations. Now, Applebee's has always marketed itself as your "neighborhood" bar, even when you are in a suburb of Dallas a thousand miles from home in San Diego and you need a place to feel at home, a place to connect to your community. However, for this demographic, the idea of "community" is so far removed from what Applebee's has to offer that the idea that they might be attracted to it because the logo is hipper is beyond laughable. This demographic is connected via broadband through MyFaceTwitterDiggBook to a hundred people they know by first/last, and a thousand more called LOLHamburger and Kitty546, and not one of them is likely to ever suggest getting a plate of onion rings at Applebee's to hang out. Hell, for them, suggesting a quick run down to Bloodmyst Isle for some grinding might be a bit passé.
In all, I'm fascinated that somewhere in the Applebee's corporate hierarchy, somebody decided that in order to increase their market, they needed to target the tech culture. I'm more fascinated that nobody else in that hierarchy was able to talk them down from it.
*NOTE: edited to fix my numerological mishap. Thanks, Glenn!