DENNY'S ROOSTER TO RETURN IN NEW 'SLAMS' BREAKFAST ADS: TV SPOTS TOUT RESTAURANT CHAIN'S STRONGEST MENU ITEM

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Denny's brings back the Love Machine next week to promote its breakfast combos. But this time, the rooster, which last year inspired adoring chickens to lay more eggs, arrives in a stretch limousine.

For the second summer in a row, Denny's will put the bulk of its media behind its All-Star Slams breakfast line. The rooster is again backed by the Commodores' song "Love Machine" in a new 30-second spot from Lowe & Partners/SMS, New York.

"We had hundreds of calls" after the first spot aired, said Jenifer Harmon, director of national advertising for the 1,752-unit chain. "It was overwhelmingly the most popular commercial we ever produced."

The new spot begins as viewers see the shadow of a stretch limousine pulling up to a barnyard. The rooster's legs start strutting as he woos lovesick chickens that follow him into the coop. Then there's a shot of breakfast combos. An announcer says, "Denny's All-Star Slams are back by popular demand. So is our extra help." The extra help is to get more eggs for the meals.

The commercial will run through early September on broadcast network, cable and spot TV. The chain declined to discuss spending for the breakfast effort.

TOP FAMILY FEEDER

Denny's, the top-ranked chain in the $31 billion family dining segment of the restaurant business, spent $49 million on measured media last year, according to Competitive Media Reporting.

"The Grand Slam is one of Denny's strongest menu items and with family vacations and travel, summer is a good time to use the strength of that brand," said Bill Brooks, exec VP-group account director at Lowe.

Denny's rooster isn't expected to achieve the star status of Taco Bell's Chihuahua. But the bird has helped breakfast sales take off, Ms. Harmon said.

"They were increasing every week" last year, she said.

New on the breakfast menu this summer is a health-oriented combo with fresh fruit, yogurt and two pancakes. Add to that a new turkey burger on the lunch menu, and there's a minitrend toward weight watching at Denny's.

APPEALING TO WIDE AUDIENCE

Lowell Petrie, director of brand marketing, said the company is trying to appeal to as wide an audience as possible.

"As the boomers grow older, they are much more health-conscious than current seniors are," he said.

Denny's also is working to beef up dinner sales with a new six-item line called Skillets, rolled out nationally last month after a successful test. Those items, including chicken fajitas and glazed Mandarin salmon, won't be backed by advertising yet.

Separately, Denny's this month ends a TV campaign launched in January aimed at promoting diversity. The ads stemmed from the chain's highly publicized

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