Adam T. Sutton

Super Bowl Wins

February 4th, 2010

Super Bowl XLIV is just around the corner, and one marketing team is hoping to repeat last year’s game day win.

Denny’s is inviting America to visit its restaurants on Tuesday, Feb. 9, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. for a free Original Grand Slam Breakfast. The team will announce the offer with a funny television commercial during the Super Bowl’s third quarter. Check out this teaser commercial.

The team ran a similar effort last year, using a Super Bowl ad to help pull in more than 2 million hungry customers for free Grand Slams during the single-day event.

We reported their strategy after the results were in. Denny’s realized a 39% net brand improvement score, the third highest of all of Super Bowl XLIII’s advertisers, according to a comScore post-Super-Bowl survey. They also captured more than 50,000 website hits, and a ton of free press.

“We hit a chord with people and resonated with people on a sort of warmth and kindness perspective. We had literally thousands of emails and phone calls from consumers, even some that didn’t go to the event, thanking Denny’s for giving a free breakfast,” said Mark Chmiel, EVP, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, Denny’s, when we spoke with him last year.

Minor problems are inevitable when 2 million people show up for a free meal. Here are two snags the team hit last year and how they handled them:

1. Cold feet

At the last minute, one franchisee started charging customers $1.99 for a Grand Slam. The team sent people to the store to prevent customer backlash and bad PR. They stood at the door and handed out coupons for free Grand Slams, redeemable at any Denny’s. They also mentioned that the franchisee was violating an agreement.

2. Long lines

“We did have a free coupon in case some people felt the lines were too long or that they had to get to work…They could come back within the next two weeks to have a free Grand Slam,” Chmiel said.

As you can see, Denny’s effort is focused on building brand affinity. They do not want anyone turned away and disappointed. Last year, they leveraged their good will to capture a massive amount of free press–and you can expect the same this year. This will not be the last time you hear about Denny’s feeding America.

Adam T. Sutton

About Adam T. Sutton

Adam T. Sutton, Senior Reporter, MarketingSherpa
Adam generates content for MarketingSherpa's Email and Inbound Marketing newsletters. His years of experience in interviewing marketers and conveying their insights has spanned topics such as search marketing, social media marketing, ecommerce, email and more. Adam previously powered the content behind MarketingSherpa's Search and Consumer-marketing newsletters and carries that experience into his new role. Today, in addition to writing articles, he contributes content to the MarketingExperiments and MarketingSherpa blogs, as well as MECLABS webinars, workshops and summits.

Prior to joining MarketingSherpa, Adam was the Managing Editor at the Mequoda group. There he created content and promotions for the company's daily email newsletter and managed its schedule.

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  1. February 16th, 2010 at 13:44 | #1

    Denny’s has done a smart thing if all they wanted was brand affinity, but at what cost? 2M x price of a Grand Slam = a ton of cash. I presume that franchisees are paying the bill. Two important questions: 1)what was the opportunity cost 2) how has this all helped the bottom line?

  2. February 17th, 2010 at 12:18 | #2

    Hi Tim — I agree that the strategy is not without risks. That said, the team has walked down this road before. They must be happy enough with the results to walk down it again.

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