Report Shows Applebee’s at Top of Media Impact Pack

Applebee’s generated more than $9 million in Impact Media Value, thanks to its new line of low-calorie Weight Watchers entrees, says a new report by General Sentiment.

The media measurement technology firm released the Casual Dining Industry Report, which highlights the brands that made the most significant media impact online between November 2010 and January 2011. The report showed that menu overhauls and restaurant renovations were a consistent theme for the top 10 brands, as Red Lobster, Olive Garden, Chili’s, and Applebee’s all made significant overhauls to their menus or restaurants, generating significant news media coverage and social media buzz in the process.

“The brands that continue to innovate are dominating the conversation online right now,” says Greg Artzt, CEO of General Sentiment. “In terms of brand exposure, the changes to the menu at Applebee’s, the revamping of the interior spaces at Red Lobster, and the experimentation with more green-friendly lighting at Denny’s all paid serious returns as those brands were the most-discussed over the past three months.”

Applebee’s, Denny’s, and Chili’s were the top three brands as ranked by Impact Value, which assigns positive value to all online mentions on a scale determined by Sentiment. Applebee’s introduced three new Weight Watchers-endorsed entrées to the two already on the menu, helping it outpace the Denny’s brand by more than $3.2 million over the period.

Corporate crises also dominated industry headlines within this time period. A wild brawl broke out in an IHOP in Orangeburg, South Carolina, and resulted in a viral YouTube video capturing more than 100,000 views. This controversy propelled the brand to fourth place in the overall rankings.

A racist email from a Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse general manager was widely circulated online via Facebook and Twitter. As a result, the brand came in as a top underperformer by Perception Value, which measures the brand with a focus on quality of the exposure created by assigning positive value to positive mentions and negative value to negative mentions.

“These negative events certainly drove an increased level of discussion for IHOP and Ruth’s Chris,” Artzt says. “However, online perception towards both was significantly more negative as a result. Not all coverage and buzz is created equal, and Perception Value serves to identify which brands significantly underperformed during this time period.”

News and information presented in this release has not been corroborated by WTWH Media LLC.