Denny’s ads for Super Bowl XLIV play on a familiar theme, animal panic over the supply demands of our restaurant chains (see also Chick-fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin” campaign, dating back to 1995). But it’s familiar because it works.
The pitch, free Grand Slam breakfasts nationwide on the Tuesday after the game ("Chickens Across America") and on customers’ birthdays all year ("Chicken Birthday"), also feels more like a nice gift than a hard sell. This was a return trip to the Super Bowl for Denny’s, which gave away free breakfasts in the 2009 game as well. And Denny's had the game to itself as far as restaurant rivals went.
But it decided to take a pass in 2011. The decision came under Frances Allen, a former marketer at Dunkin' Donuts who joined Denny’s in mid-2010. “I don't think we sat down one day and said, ‘You know what, we're not gonna do Super Bowl,’” Allen told Ad Age in January 2011. “We have been consistently focused on evaluating the traction we are getting from our value proposition, and as we continue to make progress, shifting our strategy is a natural evolution. We have done Super Bowl for the last two years and it has accomplished the objective of reintroducing the Denny's brand to America and giving back to our guests. The Super Bowl is a big splash and a way of getting noticed, but we've really found that our guests want consistent appreciation over time. We are giving back to them every day; we didn't feel the need to do the one-hit wonder for the Super Bowl in 2011.”Send credit info to [email protected].