Senior Thesis : Literature Review Pt. 1 – Denny’s


On February 1st , 2009, Denny’s released what was supposed to be a commercial that caught the attention of people and made them realize that Denny’s Grand Slam breakfast was a “serious breakfast” compared to their competitors “silly breakfasts”.  The commercial was a huge hit, in fact, it was rated one of the “Top 10 Superbowl Commercials of 2009”.

Denny’s took the excitement and ran with it, and decided that since the video had gone viral so fast that they would make Nannerpuss a “celebrity”.  All of a sudden Nannerpuss had taken storm with a Facebook profile, a Twitter account,  a MySpace account, pictures of Flickr and of course the video that had gone viral on YouTube.  What Denny’s didn’t do, however, is follow their audience.  What could have been an amazing opportunity for the restaurant slowly turned downhill, and the 3 milion dollars they spent on the SuperBowl commercial didn’t seem to be as successful as had hoped.

The end of the Nannerpuss commercial stated that on February 3rd, 2009 all Denny’s restaurants would be serving free Grand Slam breakfasts from 6am to 2pm.  The result, a flood of hungry people looking for free food.  According to Nelson Marchioli, Denny’s CEO, “Denny’s served approximately 2 million Grand Slams across the U.S. An average of 130 Grand Slams were served per restaurant per hour over the eight hour event.”  The event was obviously a success that day, but did it continue in it’s success after the event?

Kim Dushikski of Mobile Marketing Profits, a blog on mobile marketing, wrote, “But I can’t help but wonder what Denny’s is like the day after the big giveaway? While their business may be up due to more people thinking about having pancakes for breakfast, I am certain they don’t have lines around the buildings today.” (Dushinski, 2009).

Did Denny’s follow up?  Not right away!  According to David Meerman Scott, “When we had three networks, and no cable, it was different.  In the time-shifted, multichannel, Webcentric world of the longtail, YouTube, TiVo, and blogs, spending big bucks on ads is like commissioning a portrait back to the nineteenth century:  it might make you feel good, but does it bring you any money?”  (Scott, 2007.)

Many options could have been persued including a mobile reminder in the commercial that said “Text FREE to 5555 to receive reminders on more Free Grabd Slam breakfastsin the future”.  Denny’s then would have accumulated millions of numbers for advertising, then they could have used Nannerpuss to serve as a reminder on all of the new media sites.

Did Denny’s realize they made a mistake?  About a month after the SuberBowl ad was scene and the free giveaway happened, Denny’s realized they were back where they started.  The numbers plummeted, and as before the worry of McDonald’s and Starbucks were back.  What did Denny’s do?  On March 10th, Denny’s launched their Twitter account, @dennysgrandslam,  tweeting:  Getting excited about using Twitter to communicate with Denny’s fans!

Now, Denny’s uses their Twitter to hold contests such as asking trivia questions about Denny’s, having people tweet and retweet Denny’s GrandSlam coupons which in turn gets them a free one, and more.  Their account has over 1500 followers!  I think they learned.  Now, as opposed to solely entertaining their customers, they are listening to them and responding.

As Denny’s learned, “for marketers, one of the coolest things about the Web is that whe nan idea takes off, it can propel a brand or company to fame and fortune for free…”(Scott, 2007.)  Was the 3 million dollars Denny’s spent on the SuperBowl ads necessary?  Probably not.  It prbably helped get the word out there, and it definitely served in the entertainment aspect of things, but they probably could have done it without all of the money.  “The challenge for marketers is to harness the amazing power of viral.” (Scott, 2007.)


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