How Applebee’s is creating authentic stories with professional athletes to connect with their customers


Applebee’s is creating authentic stories with professional athletes to connect with their customers in a market saturated with online videos.

The key to success is not just including celebrities in ads, but incorporating them into the brand’s story for customers.

Innovative Solution

Digital media company Team Whistle proposed a solution for casual dining chain Applebee’s to promote their all-you-can-eat wings, ribs, and shrimp by featuring athletes on their day off. This solution fit with their Cheat Day series, which follows athletes on their free day, making them more relatable to their regular customers.


Photo: AdAgge

Game-Changing Results

The resulting episode felt more like a mini-documentary than an ad. Analysis company EDO revealed that ads with celebrities perform 25% better than those without, but brands want their famous spokespersons to resonate with their regular customers. Additionally, 66% of consumers said they pay more attention to short-format videos, like those produced by Team Whistle.


Photo: Adweek

According to Wyzowl Research’s Video Marketing Trends report, over 90% of consumers want to see more digital videos from brands, resulting in a 70% increase in marketers who plan to use videos in 2023 but currently don’t. In this context, using professional athletes in social media video stories, and not just as part of an ad, is a powerful tool to reach consumers in a more effective and personalized way.

Applebee’s knows how to connect emotionally

Ultimately, Applebee’s and other brands are looking for ways to connect with their customers through authentic stories that feature celebrities and athletes in a more accessible and relatable way. While using famous spokespeople remains a valuable strategy in marketing, it’s increasingly important to incorporate them effectively into the brand’s narrative to create a more meaningful and authentic experience for the consumer.

By featuring athletes in authentic and relatable stories, Applebee’s and other brands can harness the power of celebrities to tell stories that resonate with their audience and increase consumer engagement with the brand.