Can MTV and Adam Levine Get Millennials to Hang Out at Applebee’s?

MTV sponsorship taps into music, nightlife

Applebee's will launch a multimonth sponsorship with MTV on Monday to connect young consumers with popular bands—starting with Maroon 5. And the restaurant hopes the move will bolster its image as the go-to nightlife place for of-the-drinking-age millennials.

Under the Ultimate Fan Experience franchise, MTV will develop promotions and contests for 10 artists, which will be sponsored by Applebee's. Next week, branded spots across all of MTV’s properties—including TV, online, social, app and mobile Web—will drive viewers to UFE.MTV.com where they can enter a contest for a chance to win a trip to a Maroon 5 concert in Nashville. 

"It’s definitely the younger element of the millennial crowd," said Martha Peterson, svp and managing director at BPN, Applebee’s media agency of record. "We’ve had a lot of success with other music elements in our plan—particularly with Spotify this past year—so the passion for music has helped drive a relationship with Applebee’s and engagement with our consumer and music has been a key way in tapping into the younger millennial."

In addition to the MTV sponsorship, Applebee’s is also making a big bet on social media to attract a younger crowd. The chain has turned over its Instagram account to its fans for the next year to churn out user-generated content. As of September, the brand gained 4,500 new Instagram followers and social engagement was up 25 percent since launching the program.

Ultimate Fan Experience runs through August of next year and will include content and programs for a handful of artists. The program was piloted over the summer with Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus and One Direction. One Direction’s campaign nabbed 62,000 entries and Miley Cryus’ promo grabbed 61,000 entries.

"The results we saw over the summer in testing were really encouraging," said Paul Kelly, vp of music brand sales at MTV. "This program allows us to serve the right audience around the right passion point, which is music."