Applebee's pulls ads from CNN after side-by-side spot with Ukraine invasion footage

While the ad with the cowboy shaking his butt ran, it was on a split screen with the Ukraine footage in a small box on with a headline reading, "Russia Invades Ukraine."

Ari Hoffman Seattle WA

Applebee’s has reportedly paused their advertising on CNN following an odd ad transition Thursday. After Russia invaded Ukraine, the network went from broadcasting air raid sirens in Ukraine to showing a picture-in-picture ad for the restaurant chain, featuring a cowboy shaking his butt to the Zac Brown Band song "Chicken Fried."

The ad also featured women walking into an Applebee's, as well as shots of chicken and beer. While the ad ran, it was on a split screen with the Ukraine footage in a small box on with a headline reading, "Russia Invades Ukraine."

Some on social media even commented that the ad placement almost made it appear as if the air raid was sponsored by the chain.

An Applebee’s spokesperson told Ad Age, "When we were made aware that our ad was placed in this manner, we immediately reached out to CNN to pause our advertising on their network. It never should have aired, and we are disappointed in the actions of the network."

The spokesperson went on to say that the restaurant chain is "…deeply concerned about the situation in Ukraine."

Multiple outlets confirmed that CNN has removed picture-in-picture advertisements from its coverage of the Russia-Ukraine crisis. A CNN spokesperson said that picture-in-picture ad, also known as a "'squeezeback' ad,…have been removed from the coverage."

The network was slammed on social media after the ad aired and Applebee’s trended on Twitter. According to Ad Age, "Clips of the jarring juxtaposition were captured and shared by multiple Twitter users and retweeted thousands of times…"


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