Tuesday, January 18, 2022

The theme from Applebee's... I mean CHEERS


Lots of you have asked my opinion on the CHEERS theme being used in an Applebee’s commercial.  I’d like it a lot more if I were making money off of it, I'll tell ya that.  I don’t think this is the first time the CHEERS theme was used.  Didn’t it appear in an Allstate commercial a number of years ago?  Or am I making that up?  (And if so, why would I make up something like that?)

And then there was some diet commercial with Kirstie Alley and some of the CHEERS gang.  That I know I saw. 

Yes, I think it sullies the brand.  Do I condone it?  God NO.

But I hear Beatles songs and Springsteen songs and Dylan songs used for commercials.  Lots of popular records now hawk products.  Lots of venerable sports stadiums now are named for corporate sponsors.  (Before you baseball fans say that’s sacrilegious remember Wrigley Field and Bush Stadium.)  

It’s the world we live in. I guess the question one must ask is if you’re a rights holder is do you want your show/song/stadium/franchise associated with that particular product.  When you think of CHEERS you (hopefully) think of a certain level of quality.  Is Applebee’s on that commensurate restaurant level?  I can hear you calling out the answer -- one that Applebee's would not appreciate. 

And I think that’s what riled up so many fans of CHEERS.  It’s not so much that the sacred theme is being used in a commercial, it’s that it’s for Applebee’s.  If Applebee’s used the theme from THE ROPERS I don’t think anyone would care.  But not CHEERS.  And some of those burgers look disgusting. 

64 comments :

Dave Dahl said...

Don't sleep on the "The Ropers" theme !!

==https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdC9nJzZNyI==

When Anheuser-Busch purchased the Cardinals in the fifties, the reason was to promote beer, and the team sought to change the name of Sportsman's Park to Budweiser Stadium. The commissioner's office had no room for that sort of creativity and said No. So Mr Busch named the stadium after his family and followed up with a new brand of beer ... Buschhhhh !

Lemuel said...

"All business deals happen at Appleby's".
-Michael Scott

Darwin's Ghost said...

It was State Farm.

https://youtu.be/r9B8sG8Zros

Mike Barer said...

I never hear TV themes anymore. It seems like a lost art.

Curt Alliaume said...

The Beatles' music appearing in commercials is a little different than Dylan or Springsteen (I don't remember hearing Springsteen songs in commercials, but that may change now that he's sold his catalog). Lennon and McCartney's songs were sold out from under them early in their career, so they've never had any say about commercial recordings. When the catalog came up for sale in the 1980s, Paul and Yoko were outbid by Michael Jackson.

James Van Hise said...

The theme was used in a dream sequence in a 2021 season one episode of Resident Alien. It was when the alien realizes that his human form allows him to dream. It is both funny and weird.

Chuck said...

I continue to be surprised that the current owners of the Cubs haven't sold the rights to name the stadium. CVS Stadium at Wrigley Field. That sort of thing. I know there are many Cubs fans who have never associated the field with the chewing gum it's named after.

That's also true of Chicago's United Center where the Bulls and Blackhawks play. Many link the name to "United States" or simply as referring to "we're all in this together". Some are left wondering as to why airplanes are projected onto the outside walls.

It is maddening how many rock stars and rock groups have sold out to corporations, allowing songs of my life to shill for sometimes questionable products. Using the Cheers theme has been bad enough over the years. The most shocking was the recent use (by Lincoln Automobiles, I believe) of the theme from The Andy Griffith Show. That featured absolutely awful whistling.

Rashad Khan said...

Frankly, the "Cheers" brand was sullied forever the moment they licensed the first airport bar with the Cliff and Norm robots.

Barry Traylor said...

I ate at an Applebee’s. And never returned.

Dave Dahl said...

Speaking of Springsteen, I like the political rallies where they play the one about a disaffected Vietnam veteran with undiagnosed PTSD who is unemployed and ignored by everyone. U! S! A!

Darwin's Ghost said...

Sony had 50% and bought the other 50% of the Beatles catalog from Jacko's estate, and McCartney later reached a deal to regain the rights to some of the catalog.

https://marketrealist.com/p/who-owns-the-beatles-catalog-now/

Jacko betrayed his friendship with McCartney by buying the catalog. That was when most of his disposable income wasn't yet going on paying hush money to his victims.

Jeff Boice said...

I liked it better when commercials had original advertising jingles. Alka-Seltzer's "Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz" was a favorite. I also remember when stores played Muzak in the background. Now it's hits of the 70's and 80's". Once I was in the pharmacy department at Safeway and "I Wanna Be Sedated" by the Ramones came on.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Corporate sponsorship even extends to Broadway. The Selwyn Theater was re-named the American Airlines Theater in 2000.

I'm less offended by Springsteen and the Stones in commercials than when their music is used without permission by certain politicians they clearly don't support.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

It may be the CHEERS theme this year, but last year, it was the WELCOME BACK, KOTTER theme Applebee's was using in all of their commercials . . . well, not all of their commercials . . . there were those commercials with TikTok users doing cringe "dances" to that country-western song about Oreo shakes and whipped cream that everybody hated.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

The worst...the worst...was using Steve Goodman's "City of New Orleans" for a laxative commercial ("Good morning, America! How are you?").

Ere I Saw Elba said...

Personally, I eat at the Hungry Heifer.

Call Me Mike said...

It doesn't make me want to eat there, it just makes me want to watch Cheers again. Thanks, Applebee's, don't mind if I do!

maxdebryn said...

The adverts that alarm me (being a senior citizen/boomer) are the ones that use (so-called) "New Wave" songs. Most of them are for life insurance/estate-planning. Hearing Depeche Mode/New Order songs in commercials is like they're pointing out that my life is pretty much over.

Brian Stanley said...

(My screen flipped out the first time, so I apologize if I'm double-posting)

Ken,
I grew up with Cheers, loved Cheers, but this post made me realize a sad truth - it's been off the air for 30 years.
I'm 45 and I can't think there are many people 10 or 20 years younger than I am who know much about the show other than it's listed as a classic sitcom. I'm sure there are some "kids" who stream reruns and think it's hilarious, but if I were the rights holder at this point I'd take ever dollar I could get for a 40-year-old theme song while there's still any market at all.

Jeff Alexander said...

Take comfort in knowing that the mouth-popping "theme" for Seinfeld is unlikely to be used in commercials anytime soon.
I can't even begin to imagine what product/company would think that "music" would be appropriate.

But here's a couple of ideas of TV sitcom themes that companies could use a portion of:

Mayflower Movers - "Movin' On Up" - "The Jeffersons"
Uber - Theme from "Taxi"
Poligrip - "Show Me That Smile Again" - "Growing Pains"

Boggles the mind, doesn't it?


VincentP said...

I believe in the late '60s, a carmaker (Buick?) wanted to use the Doors' "Light My Fire" for a commercial, but Jim Morrison -- still alive at the time -- would have none of it. (BTW, I've always wondered what Morrison's reaction was to Jose Feliciano's vastly different reworking of the song.)

Wendy M. Grossman said...

I'm afraid muzak killed any expectation I ever had that I would only hear music I liked in surroundings I approved of. I care more about the actors who take jobs shilling for products and services whose quality is uncertain. If they're actors I like, I really wish someone would give them acting work instead.

wg

Liggie said...

Who did Applebee's need to get approval from to use the song? NBC, the producers, somebody else?

DwWashburn said...

The corporate branding of a stadium or entertainment hall has never encouraged nor discouraged me from going (One exception -- I'll never step foot in a Trump property). And the use of TV theme songs or 60s and 70s music in commercials has never bothered me.

It can also work both ways. Examples -- Sonny and Cher's "When you say Love" was the music from a Bud ad; the T-Bones "No Matter What Shape" was an Alka Seltzer tune; and probably the biggest one "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing" was from a Coca-Cola ad.

Craig Russell said...

As a Famous man once said

"Money makes the wold go round"

blinky said...

If Friday Night lights have been a bigger hit Applebee's could've just used that theme song. I can even picture Coach Taylor sitting there planning out his strategy to win the state championship. But the Cheers theme, no way!

Jim S said...

I just have to wonder who eats at Appleby’s every day and visits it like it’s the neighborhood bar. Those chain places depend on customer churn at the tables. Someone lingering too long when they are anywhere near busy would get the bum’s rush.

I am not saying these places are unfriendly, but they are a corporate business and not a mom and pop place.

Andrew said...

Putting aside the music...

Am I the only one here who LIKES Applebee's? I'm a little surprised at the hostility.

Of course it's not up to the standard of deserving the Cheers theme song. But what chain is?

InternetOMG.com said...

They were largely eliminated to carve out additional time for more advertising.

VincentP said...

OTOH, I'm pretty certain Elvis Costello (who's scheduled to be on Stephen Colbert this week) has never let his songs be used in commercials. (Imagine hearing "Pump It Up" selling Sunoco, Sinclair or 76.)

Darwin's Ghost said...

Liggie

Here's an in depth interview with the songwriter Gary Portnoy that details everything you could ever want to know about the song, ownership, royalties, etc.

https://www.celebritynetworth.com/articles/entertainment-articles/interview-gary-portnoy-cheers-theme-song-writer

Alan Gollom said...

As Jeff Boice mentioned earlier in the thread, it was better when commercials had their own jingles. Even better was when the jingles were so good they became hit records. Two I am aware of are Music to Watch Girls By which Bob Crewe first heard as a jingle demo for Diet Pepsi. Another was the hit song by the T-Bones (actually the Wrecking Crew) No Matter What Shape (Your Stomach’s In) which came from the fabulous Alka Seltzer commercials.

Eugene Debutant said...

“The corporate branding of a stadium or entertainment hall has never encouraged nor discouraged me from going (One exception -- I'll never step foot in a Trump property). “

Slightly off topic... It is hard to think of a modern sports team — especially those whose ownership is confined to a few individuals — that is not the vehicle of folks who’ve actively supported our 50 year slide into fascism. Compare the past part-owner of the White Sox, Bill Veeck, with the current ownership and broadcaster of the Cubs — the Ricketts and Sinclair. And, of course, Murdoch built his Fox empire on the backs of sports broadcasting and the complicit show folk who worked for his networks. Would that all teams had ownership plans like the Packers

sanford said...

Ken Levine and his partner wrote 36 Cheers episodes. Here is his take. http://kenlevine.blogspot.com/2022/01/the-theme-from-applebees-i-mean-cheers.html I assume Applebee's had to pay the writer of Fancy That a decent sum to use his song in ads. Ken mentioned the use of Beatles songs in commercials in movies and ads. https://discover.hubpages.com/business/Beatle-Songs-in-TV-Commercials I don't think Across the Universe was mentioned in the article. I am not sure how much say musicians have when it comes to selling music. Hopefully the are giving some of the money to good causes.

Brian said...

Applebee's isn't bad. It's just not really that good either. We used to go after work for a couple of beers. If I did the commercial, it would have shown happy people instead of those monstrosities of burgers.

maxdebryn said...

@VincentP - I doubt that Elvis Costello would have any problem with his songs being used in commercials. He had no problem with Olivia Rodrigo appropriating the riff from "Pump it Up" on her song "Brutal."

https://www.bbc.com/news/entertainment-arts-57650176

BGVA said...

I once called Applebee's "perfectly mediocre". It's not terrible but it's not something I crave either. It's a convenient option when you and your friends want something to eat or to grab a drink, although I'm more of a Ruby Tuesday guy myself. I loved their salad bar pre-pandemic.

Applebee's is also not somewhere I think of "Where everybody knows your name", but I'd much rather hear the Cheers theme instead of that insipid "We fancy like Applebee's on a date night" song they were using a few months ago.

YEKIMI said...

The fun thing about eating at Crapplebee's is trying to identify what "food" item on your plate came out of an aluminum can, steel can, plastic container or cardboard box or if was scraped up from the road outside the restaurant.

BGVA said...

As for commercials using theme songs, I think the most random one was a makeup company (Maybelline?) using the Magnum PI theme. What a badass song like that has to do with cosmetics, I dunno. Let your imagination run wild.

Steve Lanzi (formerly known as qdpsteve) said...

Ken, give Applebees a break. The pandemic was especially hard on 'em early on. They had to lay off over 450 microwaves.

But seriously folks, I've eaten there and personally think some of their entrees are great, others are horrible. For instance, don't order the riblets even if your life depends on it. I think they're made of 100% gristle.

There's other places that I've had good experiences with, but also like to make jokes about, such as Motel 6. ("Find a dead hooker in the mattress and your next stay is free!")

maxdebryn said...

Apropos of THE ROPERS: what an awful sitcom. The British original, called GEORGE and MILDRED, lasted five seasons, and was very funny.

Brian Fies said...

Adding to DwWashburn's list of commercial jingles that became legit hits: "We've Only Just Begun" by the Carpenters began life as a bank commercial.

The fact that Elvis Costello graciously acknowledged that all art is influenced by and builds on other art doesn't mean he'd "sell out" his songs for commercials. Not the same thing. Though I wouldn't necessarily think less of him if he did, depending on the product.

I had two reactions when I saw the Applebee's commercial: It made me happy to hear the song again; and it struck me that Applebee's is the LAST place I'd expect to find staff who had the faintest idea who I was beyond "Table 75." In my case the commercial backfired, only highlighting for me how unlike a friendly neighborhood bar Applebee's is.

Paxton Q said...

Some 20 years ago Cadillac used Led Zeppelin's "Rock and Roll" as a commercial jingle. The thought of using Zep to sell cars driven by guys like your grandfather boggles my mind even today.

VincentP mentioned the Doors. Supposedly all four of them had an equal vote in how their songs were to be used. After Morrison passed on, it was Kreiger, Manzarek and Densmore, who steadfastly refused all offers, much to the chagrin of the other two, who wanted to cash in before it was too late. It was Densmore's opinion that Morrison would have refused (based on that incident previously mentioned) and he was honoring Morrison's wishes.

I think Morrison would have taken the money and run. Now it is too late. Nobody cares about the Doors or their music anymore, except for old DJs like me.

maxdebryn said...

@ Brian Fies - I didn't say that he'd "sell out" his songs for commercials."He" being Elvis Costello.

Jahn Ghalt said...

many Cubs fans who have never associated the field with the chewing gum it's named after.


And here I thought that it was named after the Cub's owner.

Mario S said...

Technically Wrigley Field was named after the owner. But the league didn't mind the association with gum. When the Busch family bought the Cardinals, Augie Busch wanted to name the stadium Budweiser stadium but they wouldn't let him because they didn't want the stadium named after beer. They would let him name it after the family name, which he did. He then created Busch Bavarian beer. So he got his free advertising anyway.

Ere I Saw Elba said...

@ maxdebryn

The fact that Depeche Mode and New Order are selling things like life insurance and estate planning is the most depressing thing I've heard this year, and I'm a fan of their depressing music. What a fucked up time our generation is going trough. And 2022 doesn't even have three weeks into it.

Anonymous said...

Barry Manilow wrote the following commercials. He said it paid pretty well.

'Stuck on Band-Aid' and Other Unforgettable Jingles You Probably Didn't Know Barry Manilow Created
State Farm: “Like a Good Neighbor”
Band-Aid: “Stuck on Band-Aid”
Stridex: “Give Your Face Something to Smile About”
KFC: “Grab a Bucket of Chicken”
Pepsi: “Feelin' Free”
McDonald's: “You Deserve a Break Today”

Pam, St Louis.

Joseph Scarbrough said...

@Andrew I know how you feel . . . I love Olive Garden, but I seriously don't get the hate that's always heaped on them - especially those who always call it a glorified Italian McDonald's, because that's such a false equivalent: McDonald's is a fast food joint, Olive Garden is too fancy to be fast-food, but too casual to be an upscale restaurant.

Chuck said...

Thought that, did you? Yes, originally Weeghman, then Cubs Park, it was renamed Wrigley Field in late, 1926.
William Wrigley Jr., from opening day, 1927: "Let those who sit upon these seats, find themselves not also sitting upon a wad of chewed Wrigley Double Mint gum, for which this field is renamed."

One of my favorite Famous Quotes. That William Jr., what a character!

Nathan Detroit said...


Those who — circa 1967 — first viewed the Gold Medal Flour “Can Do” commercials
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BwmztGRxok
might’ve wondered if the company had swiped the jingle from the Guys and Dolls opening number, A Fugue for Tinhorns,
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BAIlVCStp3c
while the attorneys of Frank Loesser (1910-1969) slept.

But the songwriter was no stranger to Madison Avenue, having written an undistinguished ditty for Piels Beer in 1958
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AL2PHbAUglw
(Piels had better luck with their Bob and Ray ad campaign)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HCsEwoUwVTI

Any future commercial use of Loesser’s Frank Music compositions would presumably have to be cleared by Paul McCartney, their current owner
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MPL_Communications#Music_publishing

Copyright protection formerly lasted—if renewed after 28 years —a total of 56 years. But now, for older creations, protection is roughly 97+ years, and — for works produced after January 1, 1978 — copyrights last the life of the author plus an additional 70 years!
Which is to say Congress, in effect — at the behest of its Corporate donors — passed laws that stole/removed works that would’ve belonged to all Americans — via Public Domain laws — after 56 years — which would, this year, include most of the Beatles catalog, and the greater Loesser.

VincentP said...

Paul Mac paid tribute to Frank Loesser in 2009 with this nice version of the Loesser standard "On a Slow Boat to China" (did he already own his catalog by then?):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=raKntv51pL4

Bob B. said...

Just my opinion but if music from Tchaikovsky and Vivaldi can be used in commercials with few people caring, I think that a theme song from a sitcom shouldn't cause much heartburn.

Breadbaker said...

When the UAW workers at John Deere were on strike last fall, a bar in Silvis, Illinois advertised that it would give a free burger a day to any UAW members who came by. We were strongly in support of the strikers, as a four-generation union family, and had baked goods we handed out on the picket line and been to rallies in support of the strikers. So we thought this bar would be a good place to patronize, even though it was half an hour away (and in the Quad Cities, that is as far as you can drive before you hit an hour of cornfields).

And the thing was, when we arrived, having ordered our food online, they knew exactly who were were. Why? Because they knew everybody else by name. And I mean everybody. It wasn't like walking into an episode of Cheers, it was more like walking into somebody else's office party. They were kind and the food was good and they understood why we had ordered from them, but it was also clear that we were unlikely to be made regulars. But when the weather is better and Covid makes eating inside possible again, I'll still go back. Wherever everybody knows they don't know my name.

Zbigniew Smith said...

FRIDAY QUESTION

After seeing multiple clickbait headlines like, "Fans of BELOVED SHOW Have a Sappy Reaction to Something that Happened in COATTAILS: THE NEXT RIDE," is there an end to the nostalgia gravy train?

BillS said...

Elvis song in ad for Ford ECoSport in UK from 2018 .

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LdmfoTsE93g

Mark said...

Pam from StL, Barry sang those jingles but the only ones he has a writing credit on are State Farm, Stridex, and Band-Aid. The confusion is because he featured all of them on his “Very Strange Medley” from Barry Manilow Live.

Fun fact, Randy Newman co-wrote the Dr. Pepper jingle.

Andrew said...

Thank you! I like Olive Garden too. Middlebrow taste, I guess.

Don Kemp said...

Charlie Harper made a pretty good living writing commercial jingles and show themes. Oshikuru was pretty catchy and who could forget the Maple Loops song?

Leighton said...

@Brian

In regards to "We've Only Just Begun," Lowe's created a fantastic long commercial called "House Love" about eleven (?) years ago, using a different cover of the song. And by the way, yes, those are the Cleaver and Munsters homes (since obviously altered), used for tons of TV/commercial/film projects since the 60s...

https://www.ispot.tv/ad/AgGm/lowes-house-love

Anonymous said...

Mark,

I should have clarified. Barry seldom wrote the words, only the music. He said the client provided the “hook” line and he wrote the tune.

Pam, St Louis

Lizan said...

A version of Gary Portnoys cheers tune was also recently used in a commercial for one of the biggest banks in Holland; Rabobank.
It always really triggered me every time i stumbled on it.
It belongs to Cheers in my mind and triggers some sort of pavlovian respons apparantly.
I loved hearing the tune again but it being so out of context it was always a little jarring that it was a commercial not 'Ah time to relax and have a laugh'.

tinctureofhorsehide said...

I always thought Ex-Lax missed a bet when they didn't use It Keeps You Runnin' by the Doobie Brothers.

Unknown said...

Well said