Applebee's Neighborhood Grill + Bar may not have had anything to do with the origins of "Fancy Like," the hit country music song dominating TikTok these days. But it's happy to be mining the viral craze, teaming up with country music artist Walker Hayes for a new ad campaign.
It's even bringing back the song's Oreo Cookie Shake for just $2.99, so every Applebee's date night can hit that classic sweet spot.
Walker's song hit Billboard's Country Digital Song Sales chart like an Alabama hurricane back in June, giving Hayes his first No. 1 hit.
And while it's catchy enough, as country food/love songs go, it got its traction on TikTok. The Hayes family, apparently as bored in lockdown as the rest of the world, started filming front-porch dance clips, which 15-year-old Lela helped choreograph.
The clips, and the many variations starring random Applebee's teams, cops, nurses, kids, senior citizens and even a dance-by from Shaquille O'Neal, have been viewed millions of times.
Walker Hayes and his wife have had plenty of date nights at the Applebee's in his native Mobile, Alabama. In Applebee's press release, he says he always wanted to write a song about it. And dancing with his kids made it all the more fun.
"It almost seems too easy because it was just me being me, in the song and with my family," he says in an interview with Billboard.
Applebee's is owned by Dine Brands, the Glendale, California-based company that also owns IHOP.
In a conference call reviewing its earnings earlier this month, the company acknowledged the attention the dance challenge has been creating. With recent ads featuring the theme songs to “Cheers” and “Welcome Back, Kotter,” music is part of the brand's DNA, says John C. Cywinski, Applebee's resident, on the call.
So "Fancy Like" fits right in. "The song lyrically is all about date night at Applebee's, and it's gone viral in a big way on social media, TikTok, Instagram and YouTube, providing great buzz for the Applebee's brand."
Country music has never missed a chance to link brand names to class struggles, particularly with booze, trucks and Dr. Pepper.
No word yet if any other brands intend to pounce on Hayes’ song, but it’s rich with endorsement opportunities. It mentions seven other brands: Wendy's, Natty (a.k.a. Budweiser's Natural Light), Vespa, Maybelline, Victoria's Secret, Skoal and … Tesla.