I spent last night in front of my laptop on Twitterbowl and in front of NBC. As NBC rolled out a fairly conventional game presentation (tell me again why are there fireworks digitally exploding behind the announcers?) tweets were coming in fast and furious from all over the world.
The biggest recent highlight for the Denny’s restaurant brand was its 2010 Super Bowl campaign marking the return of its free Grand Slam breakfast on your birthday promotion. It was also, as it turns out, the last hurrah for Denny's CEO Nelson Marchioli.
In May 1979, a one-year old, bucolic ice cream company named Ben & Jerry's gave away ice cream cones to acknowledge their customers' loyalty. Ben & Jerry's, now a leading maker of premium ice cream and frozen yogurt and a division of Unilever, carries on the tradition today. March 23 is "Free Cone Day" from 12 - 8 PM at more 360 locations spread across the United States. Call it coincidence, but today Starbucks also gave away a free pastry until 10:30 AM, with the purchase of a drink. After a tough 2009, Starbucks is looking at different branding strategies to adjust to changing spending habits and increased competition. Clearly, these venerable brands are on to something.
Doughnuts, popcorn chicken and foot-long sandwiches are free for the taking, too. Among the chains with giveaway contests and other promotions: Subway, Chick-fil-A Inc., Krispy Kreme Doughnuts Inc. and KFC Corp. Giveaways are an inexpensive way for companies to stretch their marketing dollars during the recession. Contestants also tend to brag about the sport of entering free food contests, something that's easier than ever with social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. That spreads the restaurants' marketing message even further.
We all know the statistic and scratch our heads: The average tenure of a CMO is around two years or less. Why? Usually it takes that long to fully understand the intricacies and true insights of most industries, companies and brands. Repeating an action over and over again anticipating a different outcome is a humorous definition of insanity. So are CEOs and boards insane?
From tweets to texts, consumers weighed in on which Super Bowl ads were the best, with Doritos coming out on top in several measures. The flood of seat-of-the-pants opinions aired via status updates on Facebook and Twitter has changed the traditional Monday morning quarterbacking of Super Bowl ads. More traditional methods like USA Today's Super Bowl Ad Meter consumer poll have been joined by newer measures based on Web buzz.
Panicky poultry, a battered Betty White and a series of violent ads for Doritos provided plenty of laughs during Sunday night's Super Bowl, even with the weak economy prompting several heavy-hitting advertisers to sit out the Big Game.
As dangerous as it may be to generalize, it is probably safe to say that few folks think of Marcel Proust as they watch the Super Bowl. But for the advertising bowl that took place inside Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday, it was one long remembrance of things past — with candy bars, mobile phones and beer bottles standing in for madeleines. Nostalgia is a critical component of the pitches from sponsors on Super Bowl Sunday. After all, the best way to appeal to a mass audience of 100 million or so Americans is usually to fill spots with paeans to the past along with catchy music, stars, special effects, talking babies and endearing animals.
Super Bowl 2010 is more than a football game–it’s a face-off between companies striving to have the most-talked about commercials. And the super spectacle will also be rocked by music from the Who, Carrie Underwood and Queen Latifah. Speakeasy will be live-blogging the cultural and commercial aspects of the Super Bowl. Feel free to give your take on the ads and the music in the comments section. You can check out the action on the field here.
Charging into the Super Bowl for the first time, Kia Motors is discovering that buying a 30-second ad during the game, which will air on CBS this Sunday, is opening a few doors, namely a deeper relationship with a very big company: Google. Google is working closely with Kia and nearly all Super Bowl XLIV's 40 Super Bowl advertisers, offering them exposure far beyond the TV. The marketers that are paying up to $2.8 million for each 30-second spot can upload the ads on Google's Super Bowl Ad Blitz page, as they have in the past. But this year Google has added even more features including social media buttons that will make it easy for viewers to pass them along or "tweet" them on Twitter.
As the clock ticks toward Super Bowl XLIV, rookie marketers are looking to get their 15 minutes -- or, in this case, 30 seconds -- of fame by filling the remaining slots on CBS. The list of official first-time advertisers in the Big Game includes such heavy-hitters as Dr Pepper, Electronic Arts and Boost Mobile, in addition to HomeAway, Time Warner's Turner Broadcasting System TruTV and text-messaging answering service KGB. That already surpasses the number of rookies who appeared during NBC's broadcast of Super Bowl XLIII last February: Cash4Gold.com, Castrol, Denny's, Teleflora and Vizio.
Restaurants trying to get more families to dine out have a new recipe: Get rid of the French toast sticks. Put more broccoli and carrots on the menu. Let the kids eat free.
Denny's Corp. is trying to restake its claim as a nocturnal hot spot for young adults. The restaurant chain -- which conjures images of seniors and families digging into morning pancake platters -- has been trying to set a different scene for night owls. Between the hours of 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. it pipes in rock and country music and it is scheduling after-concert parties for up-and-coming bands. It has added late-night menu items fashioned by well-known musicians including Rascal Flatts and Good Charlotte. On Tuesday, singer Jewel is slated to concoct a new Denny's menu item at a New York test kitchen.
If it worked once, why not again? That seems to be the thinking behind another promotional stunt from Denny's. The fast-casual restaurant is asking its faithful to bring a friend who could use a free meal, positioning the freebie as a "random act of kindness" it "hopes will spread across the country."
After its Super Bowl ad promoting a free breakfast created demand on Main Street, Denny's top executive Nelson Marchioli tried Wednesday to serve up interest on Wall Street. The CEO told investors that Denny's has had "a very encouraging lift in guest traffic" since the gimmick, but stopped short of predicting long-term results.
During a Q&A session following a speaking engagement in Chicago on Wednesday, I was asked for my opinion of Denny's Grand Slam Giveaway Super Bowl promotional spot by an executive in the audience. "Do you think it was a success?" he asked with a hint of skepticism in his voice. "I really don't know," I replied. "I have no idea what 'success' means to Denny's. I hope it means a sustained increased in profitable sales that exceeds the $5 million cost of the promotion." I went on to express my doubts that a one-off sales promotion with no follow-on behavioral incentives or cues would have that effect.
Score one for beginner's luck. Denny's first Super Bowl spot, which offered free breakfast to America, seems to have put bums in seats. The restaurant claims it surpassed its estimate that it would serve up to 2 million people during today's eight-hour Grand Slam giveaway. And all for the low price of $5 million.
Although the term “grand slam” is associated with baseball rather than football, the restaurant chain that sells the Grand Slam breakfast — Denny’s — is becoming a Super Bowl advertiser for the first time.
Ask a dozen advertising agencies for advice on marketing in a downturn and the chances are that each will begin with a lecture on the dangers of cutting budgets. Even for those having to do more with less, however, there are lessons to be learned about how to return stronger.