Applebee's Happier Hour A communications campaign to increase student awareness and participation in Applebee’s happy hour and daily deals.

Campaign Overview

My senior project is an advertising campaign, a communications campaign to increase student awareness and participation in Applebee’s happy hour and daily deals that were designed to accommodate a college student budget and lifestyle. The focus of this campaign is to present students with the restaurants food and drink happy hour in order to increase the number of students that visit the restaurant during those times. Also to further inform college students how Applebee's late night hours, free Wi-Fi and low price deals can benefit them in their studies.

Introduction

Secondary Research

Applebee’s has various benefits for students of all kind. Applebee’s is a chain restaurant that recently changed their targeted audience from 35-51, to those of a younger age group (21- 30.) The target audience of this campaign is Savannah State University students. For this campaign, the focus is to present students the meal deals and steals Applebee’s offers and to inform them how their late night hours and low price deals can benefit them in their studies. Also, the purpose of the campaign is to show students that there is a place for them to get quality food at a discounted price. One’s 20’s can be an interesting time in one’s life because he is either fresh out of college or struggling to make it ends meet on their own. Either way, at this age, a young person’s budget is tight. Applebee’s has made a special menu just for those on a budget.

The chain restaurant took the happy hour to another level by adding a late night happy hour to the menu. Therefore, if he cannot make one, he can make the other. Applebee’s has some of the latest dine-in hours in Savannah during the weekdays. At Savannah State University, the library closes at 10, but the librarians begin to shut everything down around 9:45 p.m. Furthermore, Applebee’s offers free Wi-Fi to anyone who dines in at the restaurant so students can bring a laptop or a tablet for free Wi-Fi and the doors do not close until 12 a.m.

The main goal of the campaign is to convince students to come to the happy hour and the late night happy hour during the week.

Background Research

Through secondary research, it was made clear why college students needed to take advantage of Applebee's late night happy hour, food and drink options. According to a study conducted by Lucia Peters, orders placed between 10 p.m. and 2.a.m. are twice more common for college students than they are for anyone else (Peters, 2014). Applebee’s daily happy hour runs from 3 p.m. until 6 p.m., followed by their late night happy hour running from 9 p.m. to 12 a.m. On Friday and Saturday, the late night happy hour runs all the way through 1 a.m. These late night dine- in hours come with a price that can’t be beat.

Students can enjoy ten boneless wings for just $5.00, that being the most expensive item to order on the happy hour/late night menu. ). According to Peters, college kids eat a lot of fries, wings, soup, and salad. All of these food items can be found on one or more of Applebee’s daily steals. For most kids, college is the first time they will have to do any real grocery shopping or fending for themselves. Therefore, most college students resort to eating out for the majority of their meals.

With that understood, the main purpose of this campaign is to encourage students to start eating out at Applebee's.

Back in 2016, Jawbone, a wristband that about 18,500 students wore for research, found that college students tend to fall asleep after 1 a.m. Most students do not have a set sleeping and eating schedule and tend to alter from day-to-day due to essays, homework studying for exams, etc. With free Wi-Fi and late dine-in hours, it should be an obvious choice for students to choose Applebee’s as their spot for lunch and dinner. Applebee’s top competitors will be Sweet Melissa’s, a pizza joint that closes their doors at 4 a.m., however, they are located downtown so this could be an inconvenient drive for some students.

Denny’s Diner, another direct competitor, located off of Abercorn Street never closes and is similar to Applebee’s in a sense, however, Applebee’s advantage over Denny’s is their low cost prices. Denny's menu consists mainly of breakfast and does not have offer a variety of lunch and dinner food. Finally, the last direct competitor with Applebee’s is The Diner on Abercorn Street, which is also 24 hours. Applebee’s upper hand against The Diner on Abercorn is Applebee's variety of different lunches and dinners. The diner only offers breakfast food.

Methodology

Sample Selection

The sample selection utilized was a non-random, convenience sample. The participants chosen were all students of Savannah State University. The student samples need to be between the ages of 18 and 30 in order to reach target the audience Applebee's is longing for. The students are a convenience sample because they were chosen simply by a walk-through. For example, by walking through the Student Union and King Frazier Cafeteria, students were randomly selected.

However, the sample is non-random because the locations where participants were selected were specifically on Savannah State University's campus.

Procedures

In order to collect the most useful insight, 30 people will be surveyed. The survey is consists of twenty four questions that ask students how If a student is below the age of 18 or over the age of 30, he/ she will be disqualified from the results because that does not meet the demographic requirements the client, Applebee's, is looking for in this campaign. Another student will then be surveyed to make up for the disqualified student. The survey questions consist of multiple choice, yes/no, and linear scale.

Consent Form

Ethical Considerations

Along with the survey, a consent form was distributed in order to protect the participant's privacy. It was made known that their identity and information would be kept confidential and used for the research of this campaign only. The students understood that they could withdraw from the survey at any point in time.

Data Analysis

Data will be collected using Google Forms. Google Forms Excel Sheet will be utilized to further analyze the data collected from the surveys.

Plan

Campaign Goal

The overall purpose of this advertising campaign is to increase student awareness and participation in Applebee’s daily deals that are designed to accommodate a student budget.

Target Audience/ Stakeholders

Students at Savannah State University.

Objective

To increase the percentage of college students that have been to Savannah Applebee’s happy hour/ late night by 20% by April 1, 2017.

Key Messages

*some conflict with the corporation left limitations on key messages. The company did not allow alterations to the restaurant’s nationwide key messages and themes, therefore, corporate’s messages and themes remained the same*

  1. "Eating good in the neighborhood!"
  2. "There's no place like the neighborhood."

Key Themes

  1. The key message for this campaign is "Help us, help you."

Channels & Strategies

The strategy is to educate and reach out to students who are working with a budget, and convincing them that they are getting the best quality and service at Applebee’s for their dollar.

Media Channels (for print)

  1. Fact sheet- Will be a quick, but useful tactic used in order to get students to stop for a second and check it out. These will be hung around he Student Union and Tiger Arena.
  2. News kit (media advisory, news release)- Both media advisory and news release will be sent through emails of students at Savannah State University to get the word circulating of Applebee's new happy hour and daily deals.
  3. Electronic news letters- News letters will also be distributed through email and social medias.
  4. Social media- Social media accounts will be used to send out tweets and Facebook posts to get students more involved in hashtags and new information. Retweets and likes will be crucial in this tactic. JPEGs of the poster and post cards made will be posted on Facebook and Twitter for a quick visual for the target audience.

These media channels were selected by the secondary research conducted. Research shows that these forms of deliverables are the most effective.

Non-Media Channels

  1. Informational table in King Frazier- Table with media advisory, and visuals, such as poster and post cards to grab the attention of students walking past.
  2. Poster- Posters were hung around campus and used to demonstrate what deals were offered on each day of the week that Applebee's offered a different special.
  3. Postcard- Post card was a quick summary of what was offered on happy hour and what time it starts and ends. The post cards were handy in placing on people's windshield and distributing hand-in-hand. These were also placed inside of the post card holders in the cafeteria.
  4. Door Hanger- The door-hanger was a very personal tactic in reaching students. The hanger was placed on the doors of several students throughout the University Commons, University Village, and Wright Hall. All of which consist of upper classman.

These forms of non-media channels is the only one that will be pursued because, the client did not want a brochure to be printed, and it prefers posters and print ads. Stopping people in person will be the most effective way to catch students that have questions or to clear up any misconceptions about the happy hour and late night menu.

Campaign Timeline

Campaign Budget

  1. Posters (25)- $2.45
  2. T-Shirts (10)- $19.21
  3. Door Hangers (60)- $6.98
  4. Post Cards (25)- $1.50

Total = $30.14

Campaign Objectives

Objective 1: To increase the number of college students that have actually been to Applebee’s by 20% by April 1, 2017.

According to primary research conducted, 34.5% of participants surveyed have never been to the Applebee’s in Savannah. The objective is to get that number down to 14.5% by March 30, 2017.

Objective 2: To increase the percentage of college students that have been to Savannah Applebee’s happy hour/ late night by 20%.

According to primary research conducted, 69% of students surveyed have been to happy hour or the late night special. The desired number is to get to 89-90%.

Findings

Primary Research

In this survey, 25 people were surveyed through an online Google Forms survey. Of the 25 people surveyed, 91.7% (22) were black 25% (6) were white, 4.2% (1) Hispanic, and 4.2% said other (1). All of the participants are currently enrolled at Savannah State University and the majority, 77.8% are between the ages of 18-21. When the students were asked if they knew where the Applebee’s of Savannah was located, 76% said yes, while only 24% said no. Of the 76% that know where Applebee’s is, only 64% of them have been to the Applebee’s in Savannah.

76% of participants said that they have been to Applebee’s happy hour at one point or another. Applebee’s also offer different specials for the days of the week. Figure 1. shows that when participants were ask if they were aware of the different daily deals, 61% said no and only 39% said yes.

Figure 1

Exactly 75% of students interviewed said that they do drink alcoholic beverages. 60% said that they drink at least twice a week, if not more. With that being recognized, 78.6% of those that drink are comfortable spending $3.99 on a drink. As for the food portion of Applebee’s late night/ happy hour deal, 83.1% say that ten wings for $5.00 is a good deal and would spend their money on it if they were to eat out at Applebee’s.

Participants were then asked if they preferred finger food or an entree dish and 60% stated that they would rather snack on finger foods. Students were asked what their preferred student environment was and the answers were pretty scattered.

Figure 2

Finally, when the students were asked to select one potential reason why they would not eat at Applebee’s happy hour/ late night menu, 46.4% said that Applebee’s is too far from Savannah State University, 28% said that Applebee’s was not their food preference, and 25% said that the restaurant was not in their budget.

Figure 3

Implementation

Deliverables

Door Hanger (implemented)
Pop- Up Banner Ad (online)
Fact Sheet
News Release
Post Card (Implemented)
Poster (Implemented)
Social Media Post (Implemented)
Social Media Post (Twitter)
Social Media Post (Twitter)
T-Shirt

Implementation Efforts

Evaluation

Campaign Goal

The overall purpose of this advertising campaign is to increase student awareness and participation in Applebee’s daily deals that are designed to accommodate a student budget. The goal is to raise SSU student awareness and participation in the daily deals and happy hour to the students and how the prices match the college students’ budget. The Applebee’s menu is college-student-friendly and Applebee’s pm Abercorn would like students to know and understand that.

Objective 1: To increase the number of students that have actually been to Applebee’s by 20%.

According to primary research conducted, 34.5% of participants surveyed have never been to the Applebee’s in Savannah. The objective is to get that number down to 14.5% by March 30, 2017.

Objective 2: To increase the percentage of students that have been to Savannah Applebee’s happy hour/ late night by 20%.

According to primary research conducted, 69% of students surveyed have been to happy hour or the late night special. The desired number is to get to 89-90%.

Implementation

In the Applebee's Happier Hour campaign, eight different deliverables were created, but due to time constraints, only four were implemented.

Door Hanger- Door hangers were utilized to quickly and directly get the attention of students by placing the door hangers on the doors of dormitory halls on Savannah State's campus. The dorm halls that were targeted were Wright Hall, University Commons, and University Village. These halls were selected by the age demographic of each. The Commons, Wright Hall and the Village are both made up of upperclassmen, therefore these halls are more likely to consist of students that are 21+. The door hangers advertised both of Applebee's happy hours, the appetizers offered at those times, as well as the discounted alcoholic drinks.

Poster- Posters were designed using Adobe InDesign and hung up around campus buildings such as, Student Union, King Frazier, and Tiger Arena. These buildings all offer food options. The strategy behind the poster placement was that people who are hungry and already going to get food will notice the posters and possibly decide they want to go to Applebee's, or it will at least get the restaurant's daily deals running through the students' head. The posters informed the target audience of the daily specials Applebee's has to offer during the week. Six posters were placed in the Student Union, five were placed throughout King Frazier, and four were hung up around the Tiger Arena.

Post Cards- Post cards, designed using InDesign, were distributed throughout King Frazier on the busiest time and day of the week, Fried Chicken Wednesday. This tactic was used because it was the quickest way to reach as many students as possible. There were already post card holders on each table in the cafeteria, any leftover post cards that were not handed out were placed inside of those. On the post cards was the information about when both happy hours were and what it consisted of.

Social Media Posts- Social medias such as, Twitter, and Facebook were utilized in order to reach the most students the quickest way. People were asked to retweet tweets concerning Applebee's Happier Hour hashtag, as well as tweeting using the hashtag. During implementation, students were asked to follow the Applebee's Twitter page. Although, this did pose a limitation on the findings. Because there was no control over the official Applebee's page, it was difficult to monitor whether or not its followers increased.

Methodology

The purpose of this research was to increase student awareness and participation in Applebee's happy hour and daily meal deals. Students were informed of what Applebee's happy hour consisted of and how it could be beneficial to them. The target audience was students at Savannah State University. With free wi-fi, cheap food and drinks, and late hours, students were convinced that Applebee's could be a library with food. the sample size was originally 30, but by the time the second survey was distributed, only 27 of those same participants were responsive. The youngest participant was 24 and the youngest was 18.

The survey conducted for this campaign was an online survey created using Google Forms. The survey was distributed on Savannah State's campus in the King Frazier Cafeteria between 11 am and 1 pm. Students were stopped walking in and out of the cafeteria with an iPad already opened up to the survey page. This technique was the easiest way to get students to stop and take the survey. The sample selection utilized was a non-random, convenience sample.

The participants chosen were all students of Savannah State University. The student samples need to be between the ages of 18 and 30 in order to reach target the audience Applebee's is longing for. The students are a convenience sample because they were chosen simply by a walk-through.

As far as the evaluation process goes, the same original 30 participants that participated in the first survey were sent a second survey approximately one month later (post implementation.) Right after the students took the initial survey, they were asked to submit their email address along with their submission. This would make it easier to find the same 30 participants for more consistent results. For the second and final survey, all 30 participants were sent an email with a link to the survey. Only 27 responded, which left some holes in the conclusions.

Survey Waiver
Sample of Post- Campaign Survey Questions

Findings

Before- After Comparison Chart

Conclusion

Based on the implementation of the four deliverables, the Applebee's Happier Hour Campaign, was successful in the area of increasing awareness in students on Savannah State University's campus. There was a 36.2 percent increase in the amount of students that are now aware that Applebee's even has a happy hour available. It is important to know that, of the 60% that previously knew about the restaurant's happy hour, only 50% of that small number knew that the happy hour also included food. The campaign increase the audience's knowledge by 46.3 % Whether or not the students went to Applebee's for happy hour or just to eat, is unknown, but there was a 15.4% increase in student attendance at Applebee's.

Finally, the most dramatic increase of the entire campaign was the percentage of students that were aware of the weekly deals Applebee's had to offer. This number jumped from 36.7% to 93.9%.

However, in efforts to encourage students to actually go and participate in the happy hour and daily deals, it is unclear whether or not more students actually did participate. There were some limitations in this study that effected the findings and results of this study. For example, the original study included 30 participants. However, in the latest post- campaign survey, only 27 people responded. With three people missing, it is difficult to accurately read whether the number of students who have been to Applebee's happy hour has actually increased or not.

The percentage of students that have been to Applebee's happy decreased, the only explanation is that one of the initial participants did not take the final survey.

Summative Evaluation

Cyberspace Buzz

Social media accounts such as Twitter and Facebook were utilized in order to get students more involved with the hashtag #ApplebeesHappierHour. Students were asked to tweet or post on Facebook any time they were attending happy hour. Posting a selfie at the restaurant and using the hashtag was highly recommended for students because the restaurant offered a %10 discount to those who did.

Cyberspace buzz

Formative Evaluation

Some of the limitations this campaign had were time constraints, funding and time conflicts. Due to being a full time student, it was difficult to find a time where one was able to implement at the at a convenient time. Funding was also an issue because printing on quality photo paper was at a higher cost and the corporation that Applebee's is in did not approve of funding for an outside campaign. Finally, trying to contact all of the same individuals to re-take the post campaign survey was difficult to do because not each participant responded to emails and text. Three of the original participants did not respond to the post- campaign survey, therefore it was harder to compare the numbers completely.

Trying to get the deliverable printed was very inconvenient because in order to get them printed with quality and cut neatly in under less than an hour, one had to go to the print shop by 9 am Monday- Friday. After 9 am, the print shop fills with students from campus. T-Shirts were not able to be made due to shipping times and costs. To get 25 t-shirts designed and delivered to Savannah would take 14-21 business days (three weeks.) By the time they would have come in, timing for implementation would have been over. Therefore the t-shirts were not implemented.

As far as limitations in the surveys go, alterations were made to the post-campaign survey with new questions. The new questions asked about how the students heard about Applebee's Happier Hour campaign and if they had been to Applebee's happy hour since they had seen the advertisement around campus. Finally, since I did not have any control over the Applebee's official Twitter, it was hard to monitor whether or not their followers went up on social media.

Created By
Alexis Singleton
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