- Applebee’s is using an hour-long autonomous sensory meridian response (ASMR) video featuring the sounds of a variety of meats sizzling on a grill, according to information provided to Marketing Dive. Viewers can watch a montage of ribs, shrimp, chicken and steak being grilled.
- The campaign is designed to help people find a sense of calm by listening to the sizzling sounds. Seventy-nine percent of Americans report being stressed sometimes or frequently during the day, and 49% of women experience frequent stress versus 40% of men, according to a Gallup poll cited by Applebee’s.
- Applebee’s ASMR is promoting the restaurant chain’s $12.99 Bigger, Bolder Grill Combos that will available at participating locations through May 27.
Applebee’s is trying to tap into the growing audience for ASMR videos, which exceed 10 million on YouTube. Most ASMR videos focus on soft, relaxing sounds, like people whispering, that are designed to give people a tingling, and even euphoric, feeling — whether or not grill sounds are soothing will be up to individual viewers. Applebee’s is trying to get creative in its marketing as it strives to create an emotional connection with a new generation of diners, who could be fans of ASMR videos and may appreciate the quirkiness of the campaign. At 60 minutes long, the video also underscores how marketers are experimenting with a variety of video lengths — both super short and extra long — to grab the attention of digital viewers.
Fast casual restaurant chains, like Applebee’s, are struggling with declining sales, restaurant closures and the failure to draw younger consumers. The eating habits of millennials and Gen Z consumers are shifting the dining landscape, as more prefer independently owned eateries over chains and cooking at home or ordering takeout to going out. Over the past few years, Applebee’s underwent a failed attempt at rebranding as a modern bar and grill in hopes of attracting millennials. The experiment turned off the restaurant’s loyalists, didn’t attract new customers and led to a 6% sales drop last year, according to NPR.
ASMR videos are one tactic being used by marketers as brands try to deepen their emotional connections with consumers and offer more interactive and sensory experiences. One well-known example is Swedish retailer Ikea’s 2017 back-to-school campaign “Oddly Ikea,” which featured a 25-minute ASMR video tour of a college dorm room with a soothing female voice explaining different products as she makes beds and arranges clothing in a closet. Procter & Gamble brand Old Spice used sounds of a crackling fire and hour-long video of a Yule log on a fireplace for its holiday campaign.