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The Margin: Applebee’s says its commercial ‘never should have aired’ during CNN’s Russia-Ukraine coverage

An Applebee’s commercial that aired alongside CNN’s footage of Ukraine under attack has left a bad taste in many viewers’ mouths. 

As the WarnerMedia-owned
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cable news network was covering Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday, an unfortunately-timed Applebee’s ad made a jarring transition from air raid sirens blaring over Kyiv one moment, to the sound of the Zac Brown Band’s upbeat “Chicken Fried” single played over footage of beer and fried chicken the next.

What’s more, the split-screen view kept the Ukraine footage in a small box on the left with an all-caps headline reading “RUSSIA INVADES UKRAINE,” which was juxtaposed with the Applebee’s commercial on the right featuring a cowboy shaking his denim derrière at the camera.

“They just hard cut from a video of air raid sirens to the Applebees ‘little bit of chicken fried’ commercial and it did irreparable psychic damage to me,” tweeted one whiplashed viewer.

And many conservative CNN critics called out the news outlet for lacking in “tone and tact” with its immersive advertising. 

“Your blending of commercials and all hell breaking out in Europe isn’t working,” tweeted Scott Whitlock, research director at the Media Research Center, a right wing media watchdog.  

This led Applebee’s, which is owned by Dine Brands Global
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to trend on Twitter
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on Thursday afternoon with almost 20,000 tweets. 

And it also spurred plenty of jokes about Putin’s war in Ukraine being “sponsored” by Applebee’s. Sportscaster turned political commentator Keith Olbermann tweeted, “Death from the skies…sponsored by @applebees.” 

“Applebees couldn’t get a Super Bowl commercial, so they took the WW3 CNN slot. Savage,” joked another.

Neither Applebee’s nor CNN were immediately available for comment. 

Russia carried out the long-feared attack on Ukraine on Thursday, causing stocks to plunge and oil prices to spike. President Joe Biden said that Putin’s aggression has created “a complete rupture right now in U.S.-Russian relations,” as he outlined new sanctions against Russia that included blocking more banks and freezing every asset they have in America.

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