The song “created buzz and chatter and among team members [and] among guests,” John Cywinski, president of Applebee’s, told CNN Business. “We do have people singing it and dancing to it in our restaurants,” he added. “We love being part of the conversation.”
When a restaurant chain is referenced in pop culture, it can be good for business.
Being part of the zeitgeist can also help recruit employees.
“Hiring team members in this environment is a challenge. And retaining them is challenging,” Cywinski said. “What we found is team members really liked to be a part of something bigger.”
To ride the ‘Fancy Like’ wave, Applebee’s had to act fast. “There’s a window of opportunity when you have a cultural phenomenon like ‘Fancy Like,” Cywinski said. A song could be viral today and gone tomorrow.
“We had to ensure that all the restaurants had the ingredients on short notice,” he said. Typically, Applebee’s likes to have about 12 months to launch an item.
It also has to make sure that customers are aware that the item is back. To spread the word, the chain is launching commercials showing people dancing to the song. Applebee’s also put together a menu insert featuring a photo of Hayes and his wife sharing an Oreo shake, the relevant lyrics and a QR code that allows diners to see TikTok videos featuring the song, among other things.