Everything is bigger in Texas, or so the adage goes, and at Apple Texas, that principle is being applied to the range of accepted coupons at 65 Lone Star State Applebee’s. That’s right: this month only, Applebee’s is yet again accepting any and all coupons, gift certificates, and gifts cards—expired or otherwise—for up to 50 percent off food purchases.
Does that mean your mom’s Home Depot gift card from 2005 will buy the whole bar single dollar margaritas (another Apple Texas idea)? Well, no, the deal is restricted to food, but you might be able to split a 2 for $20 meal.
READ MORE: In 2017, Applebee's coupon deal was born.
The deal is so outlandish that Apple Texas’ representing marketing agency, 150PR, had to insist the deal wasn’t a prank when it launched last March. One reporter even declared the promotion, “BS. There is no way I can use green stamps or a dry-cleaning coupon for up to 50% off at Applebee’s. Nice try.”
Along with some discounted ribs, he had to eat his words.
So what’s the method behind the madness? While the skeptic might read this offer as a whacky get rich scheme from Applebee’s, the brand’s intent was actually community-oriented.
“It’s a fun promotion, it’s a great way to give back to the neighborhoods where we
operate, and it’s an easy way to visit us and get 50 percent off your food bill,” said Chris Dharod, president of Apple Texas parent SSCP Management, in a statement. “We want to continue being a great neighbor with our community, we felt like this was a great idea,” he said in last year’s statement.
Naturally, the community responded. Based on the idea that getting 50 percent of a customer’s business is much better than getting none, Apple Texas drove customers into booths at those nearly 70 locations last year with resounding success. Certainly, the brand is sacrificing revenue on some plates, but that half-off meal would have been nothing at all without the gift card promotion.
This promotion comes fresh on the heels of the release of last year’s final quarter’s earnings report for Applebee’s parent company, Dine Brands Global Inc. While the brand, which also manages IHOP, beat in some key fiscal categories, it’s clear that Applebee’s isn’t yet over the hump.
Same-store sales were down 5.3 percent in 2017 compared to 2016, and although sales picked up in 2017’s fourth quarter, Dine announced another 60 to 80 restaurants would close in 2018. That follows about 100 stores shutting down last year.
The deal likely doesn’t mean an extraordinary amount to the Applebee’s brand at large, but it’s certainly been effective for Apple Texas. Given the once-iconic chain’s decline in popularity generally, though—particularly among younger demographics—thinking this far outside the box definitely won’t hurt.