Applebee’s Kicks Off First VOD Effort

Applebee’s last week launched the first ad campaign to run on Oh! Baby, the Oxygen network’s video-on-demand program service for parents. The 10- and 15-second ads, Applebee’s first VOD effort, will air through May and appear solely on the program Parentology. Applebee’s media agency, Publicis Groupe’s Starcom, orchestrated the campaign.

The three parties conceived and created the ads together and are also jointly funding a study to glean data on how viewers access, watch, recall and enjoy (or not) both the content and the spots.

“We need to experiment with different ad models and understand how users interact with VOD programming,” said Jeff Darby, president of production at Oxygen, which launched Oh! Baby in June. The research will indicate how many viewers access the VOD content, plus when and for how long they view it. In addition, a panel of viewers will be asked whether they consider the commercials “intrusive,” or positive or negative in other ways, said Darby.

Sam Sussman, a vp and director at Starcom’s broadcast investment group, said the campaign was well-suited to Applebee’s needs because it promotes the chain’s “Carside To-Go Service” to busy parents looking to manage hectic lifestyles. The spots are produced in the same animation style as the Parentology content, “so it’s pretty seamless,” he said.

According to Oxygen, the Oh! Baby VOD service can be accessed by a potential audience of between 8 million and 9 million viewers who subscribe to Time Warner Cable, Adelphia and BrightHouse cable systems. Applebee’s spent an estimated $160 million on ads in the first 11 months of 2005.