Denny’s Restaurants Hits One Out of the Ballpark

I enjoyed the Denny’s ad during the Super Bowl although it didn’t grab my attention. The sterotype of the three mobsters was dated, although it started to grow on me when the waitress added the whip cream to the panckaes.  When I saw the Grand Slam Breakfast free giveaway I was intrigued, but it wasn’t enough to get me to take them up on their offer.

Apparently I was the one of the only ones not interested as  2 million people took advantage of the eight-hour

Grand Slam Breakfast
Grand Slam Breakfast

Grand Slam giveaway.  That breaks down to more than 1,000 Slams per restaurant.  John Dillon, VP-marketing at Denny’s. “We thought we were going to have a great day, and we had an awesome day. The response from customers both existing and new guests, as well as our staff and the restaurants, we couldn’t have asked for more.” The company estimates that the entire promotion, from Super Bowl ad buy to food costs, will total about $5 million.

One interesting note is the two million-plus breakfasts easily exceeds the 1% benchmark of giveaway success.  Sunday’s game had about 98 million viewers.

According to an article in the Financial Times, Denny’s, which has more than 1,500 sit-down, full service restaurants, has faced a steady decline in sales and customer traffic over the past two years as a result of the slowing economy, changing eating habits, and new competition from McDonald’s and other fast food restaurants for its core breakfast business.

In researching other promotions like this all I could find was a 2006  Starbucks promotion of an annual “free coffee break” in mid-March, giving away around half a million cups of coffee between 10am and noon. Its stores also gave out free coffee on election day, and recently offered free coffee to customers who volunteered to do at least four hours of community service.

Caribou Coffee, Starbucks’ smaller rival, also launched a free decaffeinated coffee promotion recently in response to a move by Starbucks to stop brewing decaffeinated drip coffee in batches after noon. During that time, Starbucks will now brew it only on request.  All Caribou Coffee locations offered free 12-ounce cups of decaffeinated coffee during the promotion.

Since 2006, International House of Pancakes, one of Denny’s chief breakfast rivals, has started marking Shrove Tuesday, or Mardi Gras, by giving away  pancakes, and suggesting customers make donations to a children’s charity.

And I cannot confirm this, but someone blogged about 7-11 giving out free slurpees on july 11th in Canada.

Probably the most interesting thing I learned was in the $ 5.99 Grand Slam price. If a restaurant raises all prices ending in $ .95 ($10.95 raised to $10.99) that four cents can easily add up to $5,000 to $15,000 a year for a chain restaurant.

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