Applebee's, please take this idea

I’m a sucker for a good commercial jingle. I’ll stop what I’m doing when “The General” commercial starts just so I can hear that finale: For a great low rate you can get online, just go to The General and save some time! I’ll recite “Can I get a McPick $2?” at random points in the day and am not above singing “Nationwide is on your side” in the shower.

The more original the song the better, but I still appreciate when a company uses an Oldie as background music or–even better–writes a spoof Weird Al Yankovic style.

No company is better at this than Applebee’s. The giant “Eatin’ Good in the Neighborhood” restaurant chain has been on a run now for 20 years continuing to one-up themselves with their commercial musicals. They are to the musical commercial what GEICO is to the comedy genre. Both are at the absolute top of their game.

Applebee’s formula is pretty simple, they’ll take close up shots of steaks on the grill, buffalo sauce being slowly poured over chicken wings, or someone delicately painting melted butter across a piece of chicken then have songs songs like Frankie Valli’s “I Love you, Baby” or Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It” playing in the background.

My personal favorite has to be the somewhat emotional spot for “Applebee’s To Go.” Starts with a woman ordering her meal from her smart phone. We get a couple close-ups of the food. Then we’re in the car, it’s raining outside, we see a shot of the windshield wiper. She pulls into an Applebee’s, there’s the sign off in the distance, then a look of pure joy on her face when a waitress approaches her window carrying a to-go bag in one hand, an umbrella in the other. All of this while Melissa Etheridge belts out, “Come to my window.”

As great as the Come to my Window commercial is, I still have to pay my higher respects to the spoofs. Ten years ago, it was two guys standing in the ocean singing about “The Shrimp Sensations” to the tune of the Gilligan’s Island theme song. Five years before that was the all-time great, the spoof of Johnny Cash’s Rawhide with the lyrics, Riblets, riblets, riblets. Applebee’s has riblets. All that you can eat now Riblets.” 

(Honorable mention to this one below. I’m not sure if it’s a spoof or not, but you can’t deny the passion in the lead singer’s voice. Good luck getting this song stuck out of your head for the next three weeks.)

I wouldn’t say it’s been a lifetime goal of mine to write an Applebee’s commercial jingle, but it has definitely been in the back of my head. And, a few months ago, I finally had my big idea. Not only does it fit perfectly as a commercial song, I think it’s a perfect new menu item.

Have you heard of Burnt Ends?

My friend Chuck and I did a couple podcast episodes where we went through a “BBQ Bracket.” I made two assumptions going into these recordings; the first one being that everyone has heard of burnt ends. Second – that everyone would rank burnt ends right behind the heavyweights: ribs and brisket.

Turns out that wasn’t the case.

So, if you also haven’t heard of burnt ends, quick rundown: burnt ends are the fattiest part of the brisket. Most restaurants would trim these parts off, not serve it to their customers until the 1970’s when Arthur Bryant’s in Kansas City made this a menu staple. Word spread and people discovered that these little chunks of, well, pretty much just brisket fat, were incredible when drowned in a heavy pour of bbq sauce. Thus the mystique of BBQ burnt ends was born.

But it sounds like burnt ends are still somewhat of a best-kept secret. That is why I believe 2018 is the time to take it mainstream. And what better way than getting into 2,000 Applebee’s stores.

Here’s my commercial pitch:

The commercial starts with a close-up of brisket on the grill. Next shot shows the chef separating the burnt ends. Then a slow-mo of BBQ sauce being poured over these chunks of delicious fat. Waiter carries the plate out with a smile. Fries as the side dish. Gotta have fries as the side dish. Then we get a close up of a guy doing that slight shake of the head letting out a “whew” exhale breath looking down at his plate, hand rubbing his belly. Then some text on the screen, something like “Burnt Ends – part of the summer BBQ menu at Applebee’s.” 

And now, for the most important part, the background music. It begins with Elvis belting out, “Ooh, ooh, ooh, I feel my temperature rising. Help me, I’m flaming, I must be a hundred and nine.” Quick cut to later in the song. “I’m just a hunk, a hunk of burnt end love. Ooh! I’m just a hunka hunka burnt end love. Yeah!” 

To be safe, I Googled this to see if anyone else has made the song. My heart dropped when I saw a Simpsons episode, “Hunka hunka Burns in love.” Did some investigating, looks like I barely dodged a “Simpsons did it” moment. I think we’re clear to make the spoof.

But Applebee’s, just a fair warning, the “Please, Take This Idea” series on Medium Rare is a free-for-all. As much as I want to see you be the one to air this commercial, I will shop it around if I don’t hear back. I could see this working just as well at Chili’s, or maybe a local BBQ joint. Or, honestly, I could even see Arby’s sliding this into their, “We Have the Meats” campaign. I mean, Arby’s does already have brisket on the menu; it’s only a matter of time before they have burnt ends in the mix.

The “Please, Take this Idea” policy is simple: these ideas are absolutely free for the taking. If they work, send me a check that seems fair. On the flip-side, if it fails miserably, I take no legal or moral responsibility.

Applebee’s, shall we get the grill started?

I’ll have a new idea to throw out as the last post of every month. Last month it was “Public Speaking on Airplanes,” this month Burnt Ends, who knows what next month will bring. And overall blog update – I’ll be switching to one post a week in July and August, posts going up on Monday mornings. 

I mentioned the BBQ Bracket podcast episodes earlier in the post, those can be accessed on my sister site Medium Rare Basketball. It’s part of the Medium Rare Bracketology podcast that focuses on college basketball during the season then things like this in the offseason. 

And stay tuned for an idea I’m actually going to start pretty soon. I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned it here before, but I’ll be mapping out the plan for “Fast Food Bookstore” potentially next week.  If you’d like to subscribe to this blog via email, just enter your email address in the box below or email me directly at (representatives at Applebee’s, please feel free to email me too so we can begin planning the menu). 

Thank you for stopping by, see you on Monday!

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