Thursday, January 27, 2011

denny's doesn't buy the super bowl hype

Denny's says it's not buying into the Super Bowl hype this year. It will be sitting on the sidelines for the first time after back-to-back ad appearances during the Big Game.


"It is a very expensive exercise and I don't believe it's necessary for us to continue to put all our eggs in one basket," says Frances Allen, Denny's Chief Marketing Officer, in an interview with AdAge.

There is not a bigger day for a bigger waste of ad money than the Super Bowl. Not only do companies throw away millions on advertisements, many of those advertisements sacrifice effectiveness for humor--trying to stand out as the resonant ad of the game.

Denny's past Super Bowl appearances have not been without success. The free "Grand Slam" giveaways brought people into Denny's all across the country. However, Allen's attitude towards Super Bowl advertising reveals that the company is probably second-guessing how much money it spends in one night as opposed to what it can do all year long.

"We're looking for continuity in 2011," says Allen.

Denny's decision makes sense. The reason their ads were so effective in the past Super Bowls was not because of any clever or creative advertising. It was because of the premium given away: free breakfast.

And, such a technique doesn't require a huge ad-buy as required in Super Bowl advertising. In 2009, KFC witnessed the full power of social media prowess when its "free grilled chicken" campaign exploded, causing huge lines and a major backlash at the chicken shortages. If this can be accomplished through Twitter, Facebook and earned media (and a little help from Oprah), why does a company like Denny's need to drop $3 million for 30 sec. of air time?

It doesn't.

And, other companies should be taking note.

In my last post, I wrote about how Audi blew through millions of dollars of ad time by running with a hilarious -- but, ineffective -- commercial. (Note: I don't know for a fact that it didn't generate sales, but given that I haven't seen another Audi commercial with the same positioning, I'm guessing it didn't). The ad won lots of praise, and a good bit of earned media from the political controversy it pulled, but did it really qualify as a good investment?

I'm not saying that Super Bowl advertisements aren't effective, and aren't a good investment of client money. It can be. But, the decision needs to be weighed carefully with marketing teams.

In the case of Denny's, I think it made the right call.

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