Applebee’s spices up the evening with lip gloss and a “dateable” music video


Diving brief:

  • Applebee’s has teamed up with makeup and skincare brand Winky Lux to launch Saucy Gloss, a collection of lip glosses inspired by wing sauce. The campaign is timed for National Wing Day and National Lipstick Day, both celebrated today (July 29), according to details shared with Marketing Dive.
  • As part of the campaign, Applebee’s released an original song and music video called “Taste My Face”. Billed as the first “datable” music video, the clip includes the single cast’s Instagram handles. The song will also live on as a sound on TikTok.
  • The lip glosses are available through the Winky Lux website for $18 each or $65 for the set. The cross-merchandise category collaboration and original music video are Applebee’s efforts to engage with young consumers.

Overview of the dive:

Applebee’s latest campaign is a playful attempt to tap into current trends with menu-inspired products — made in collaboration with upstart beauty brand Winky Lux — and music activation. The effort spans two things the brand is known for, according to CMO Joel Yashinsky: fenders and first dates.

The Saucy Gloss line, which comes in Get Me Hot Buffalo, Sweet Chile Kiss, Be My Honey Pepper and Honey BBQ-T flavors, mimics the look of the chain’s wing sauces. Branded products have long been a staple of marketing textbooks, with cross-category collaborations allowing brands to reach each other’s consumer bases. Similarly, Elf Cosmetics and Chipotle Mexican Grill teamed up last year to offer a limited-time menu and makeup collection inspired by the chain’s burrito ingredients.

To boost the lip gloss offering, Applebee’s dove into brand music, releasing a clubby electro-pop song titled “Taste My Face” which has a music video directed by Hannah Lux Davis. Davis is a well-known music video director who directed music videos for the biggest names in pop music, including Ariana Grande, Miley Cyrus and Nicki Minaj, giving the video a burst of pop authenticity.

Applebee’s bills “Taste My Face” as the first “dateable” music video because it includes Instagram handles from its unique cast, potentially expanding the campaign’s reach on social media as fans try to connect with the stars of the video. The channel will also make “Taste My Face” available as a sound on TikTok. Last year, the brand was a key part of a song, “Fancy Like” by Walker Hayes, which went viral on the platform. This musical effort seeks to build on the channel’s success on the platform, although creating a viral flash is harder than capturing it in a bottle.

Gray Global Group served as the lead creative agency for the campaign, with Initiative serving as the lead media agency and Current Global handling public relations. “Taste My Face” was written by Grey’s creative team and directed by Associate Creative Director Talia Rapp.

The Saucy Gloss line and “Taste My Face” follow a more down-to-earth campaign that Applebee unveiled earlier this year. “Here’s to The Regulars” spotlighted repeat customers in a series of ads that were set to the iconic theme of the classic sitcom “Cheers.”


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