Chef Stirs Burger Contest

Jun 20, 2007  •  Post A Comment

When you’re working with a celebrity chef from the Food Network, advertising on the cable TV outlet is probably a good idea.
Applebee’s, the restaurant chain, has been working with Tyler Florence since 2006. The chef, host of Food Network shows “Food 911” and “Tyler’s Ultimate,” has been dreaming up new items for the Applebee’s menu such as Tyler’s New Yorker, a strip steak with garlic butter served with thick onion rings and a hearts of romaine salad, and a grilled shrimp pesto Alfredo fettuccine. Those concoctions were so popular that the restaurant chain recently renewed the deal.
Mr. Florence also has been working with Applebee’s on burgers—his bruschetta burger and aloha burger are on the menu—so when the food chain sat down to talk about advertising on Food Network, the idea for a burger contest emerged.
The contest runs online at Foodnetwork.com and is part of a larger campaign by Applebee’s that uses the Web as well as traditional TV, including spots on Food Network.
“We were fortunate to have them come to us and talk to us about doing a partnership through advertising,” said Adrianne Davenport, director of interactive ad sales marketing for Scripps Networks.
The contest idea allows Foodnetwork.com users and Tyler Florence fans to share their Angus beef burger recipes, Ms. Davenport said.
Consumers can enter “The Big Burger Showdown” by submitting their favorite original hamburger recipe in a special Applebee’s advertising area on the Food Network Web site. Applebee’s shot video of Mr. Florence urging viewers to enter the contest; it will appear on the site.
As the deadline approaches, Mr. Florence’s exhortations to enter will shift to counting down the days until the competition closes July 15.
Judges from the Food Network kitchens and Applebee’s will select four regional finalists in September. The finalists will receive a trip to New York City to compete at the Applebee’s Neighborhood Grill & Bar in Times Square in October.
The grill-off will be judged by Mr. Florence, who calls the humble burger “an American classic that can be dressed up in so many ways to provide a flavorful and mouth-watering culinary experience.”
The winner gets $5,000, and his or her winning creation will be featured on Applebee’s menus in 2008. “I think those are very cool bragging rights,” said Ms. Davenport.
Finalists also will receive Applebee’s gift cards and a tour of the Food Network studios.
“Applebee’s is all about eatin’ good in the neighborhood,” said Kurt Hankins, VP of menu development and innovation at Applebee’s International. “What better way to bring that slogan to life than to offer a winning hamburger that has been taste-tested at backyard barbecues as well as by Tyler.”
Mr. Florence will not be talking about the contest or Applebee’s on his Food Network shows, nor will the network cover the Times Square cook-off.
He will appear in ads for Applebee’s that will run on the network, but not during the shows he hosts.
“The Food Network is a great fit with Applebee’s for many of the same reasons Tyler has been great for Applebee’s,” said Lara Tigges, senior media relations manger for the chain. “The Food Network has a lot of credibility with its viewers for great-tasting food. The network also attracts young, contemporary viewers who are a good fit with our brand. And who would be more interested in a recipe contest than foodies?”
Applebee’s will be promoting Mr. Florence’s shows in its restaurants with notes that accompany diners’ checks and with banners behind the bar in the restaurants.
This article is part of TVWeek.com’s Media Planner newsletter, a weekly source of breaking news, trend articles, profiles and data about media planning edited by Senior Editor Jon Lafayette.


  1. As news director of a couple of major market news stations and a network bureau chief, this is pretty lame stuff because every station in America has done a sweeps week mini-series anent “The Search for the Perfect Hamburger.”
    They worked, folks, but that was in the 70’s of the last century. Who’s reading they grandparents’ scrapbook here?
    H o w e v e r, as “Amateur Hours” from the radio 30’s and 40’s are drawing dumb audiences, whatever blows your skirt up, Gang.
    Too bad.
    Jim Schock

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