Skip navigation

Applebee’s chief marketing officer reveals secrets to restaurant chain’s award winning ads

Joel Yashinsky shares how the casual-dining brand has developed massively successful campaigns by connecting with the cultural moment.


One of the most impactful marketing campaigns of the past few years has been Applebee’s “Fancy Like” effort, which capitalized on a lyric within the song “Fancy Like” by country musician Walker Hayes.

The song celebrates simple pleasures and getting “fancy like Applebee’s on a date night,” and it blew up on the music charts and TikTok when it debuted in 2021. Applebee’s was quick to support the song, roll out related deals, and partner with Hayes, all of which led to the brand winning an Effie marketing award as well as a Cannes Lion award.

Applebee’s chief marketing officer Joel Yashinsky and his team were the architects of that campaign, and they’ve continued to push the envelope with marketing that connects with the cultural moment and resonates with the masses on social media. In 2023, that included the Dollarita campaign highlighting $1 margaritas, the “Saucerorities” initiative that turned its chicken wing sauces into sororities, and its attempt to woo extraterrestrials with a UFO landing pad on a Las Vegas Applebee’s rooftop.

Yashinsky joined the latest episode of Take-Away with Sam Oches to talk about how Applebee’s has sustained its marketing momentum and why authenticity is so crucial to success in its messaging.

In this conversation, you’ll learn why:

  • Customers care more today about authenticity than ever before
  • The 90/10 rule allows your brand to take some chances without alienating loyal guests
  • Even in a world where viral rules, sales and traffic determine the success of your marketing
  • Your customers need to hear the story of your brand and experience through your marketing
  • Whatever your brand represents to your guests, embrace it

Contact Sam Oches at [email protected].

Hide comments


  • Allowed HTML tags: <em> <strong> <blockquote> <br> <p>

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.