Denny’s to Do Free Again after Super Bowl Ad

Posted on by Chief Marketer Staff

Denny’s will reprise one of last year’s most successful and painless free food giveaway promotions with a deal for a free Original Grand Slam Breakfast at participating stores two days after this Sunday’s Super Bowl.

The casual restaurant will again promote the free breakfast offer in a series of 30-second TV spots during the game.

The first ad shows a spokesman warning chickens everywhere to “get out of town” because “it’s going to be a tough week for egg layers.” The humorous ads show chickens sitting in a sports bar, shooting pool, and watching the game at home with snacks. “If you’ve got vacation time, use it,” the spokesman says. “If you’ve got personal days, cash them in. Tell your boss you’ve got jury duty.”

The reason isn’t revealed until the second ad in the fourth quarter: As it did last year, Denny’s will offer a free Grand Slam egg breakfast to anyone who comes in to its restaurants on Feb. 9, from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. A final 15-second ad during the two-minute warning will repeat the offer.

A similar promotion last year resulted in 2 million Grand Slam breakfasts being given away.

“We know that times are still tough and a free hot breakfast helps a lot of folks and their families,” Denny’s CEO and president Nelson Marchioli said in a release. “We heard from thousands last year who thanked us.”

Last year Denny’s Super Bowl ad created a 1600% increase in traffic to its Web site on the day of the game. Anticipating that same response, the company has added a splash page to its site that promotes not only the giveaway offer, but other new and recent meal promotions. For example, the site trumpets the national return of the free Birthday Grand Slam, a long-standing promotions that was cancelled more than 10 years ago but returned to the chain-wide menu last December.

Web site visitors and in-store customers who sign up before Feb 14 to enter Denny’s Rewards program will also be entered into a sweepstakes to win a free Grand Slam breakfast every week for a year. Fifty-two prizewinners will be chosen from this opt-in group, with one winner named each week through the year.

Meanwhile, the first 500,000 people who register online for the loyalty program will get a voucher for a free burger and fries from the 1,500-outlet chain. And a limited-time offer beginning Feb. 10 will give Denny’s customers at participating restaurants free refills not just on beverages but on French fries and pancakes as well.

Last year’s Super Bowl Grand Slam giveaway was timed to take place two days after the game in order to take advantage of the water-cooler effect, then-CMO Mark Chmiel told Chief Marketer. He also said the company worked carefully with franchise operators to prepare them for the crowds and drop-shipped enough supplies to handle the forecast demand.

Traffic to the Denny’s Web site was so heavy in the 24 hours following last year’s big game that the site was unavailable to visitors for long stretches of time following the ad announcing the giveaway offer. As a result, according to tech platform blogger Rob Saker, the response rate to the promotion was as much as 5% lower than it would have been had the Web site remained up and running the whole time between the ad and the fulfillment period.

Chmiel, who also served as Denny’s innovation officer, resigned in December, along with COO Janis Emplit. Marketing vice president John Dillon has taken over direction of that function while the company conducts a search for candidates to fill those C-level posts.

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