Denny’s Late Switch

Following the elimination earlier this month of Bernstein-Rein from the $50 million Denny’s Restaurants review, the winner ap peared to be one of the three finalists.

But last week, a late entry emerged. Dailey & Associates in West Hollywood, Calif., joined Mullen’s outpost in Winston-Salem, N.C., Publicis in Mid Amer ica in Dallas and Doner in Southfield, Mich., in the re view. Dailey is banking on its res taurant experience and ties to Margaret Jenkins, new chief marketing officer at Denny’s, said agency president Brian Morris.

According to one source, Dailey is scheduled to present this week.

Jenkins, who spent four years as vp of marketing at fast-food-chicken chain El Pollo Loco in Irvine, Calif., hired Dailey to handle that account.

Morris maintained Denny’s would not represent a conflict be cause the chain’s family-dining format does not compete with El Pollo Loco. He would not say if he ap proached Jenkins or if she initiated contact.

Jenkins, who ar rived at Denny’s Spar tanburg, S.C., headquarters six weeks ago, said that if a clear winner does not emerge, she would expand the search.

“The process star t ed [last March] be fore I came on board,” she said. “I’m comfortable [with the contenders], but I re serve the right to in ject my opinion. I won’t make a decision if I don’t think it’s right.”

Her statements were greeted with skepticism by at least one finalist. Another called the relationship one more potential pitfall in a new-business pitch. “Sure, we know about Dailey,” said one agency executive. “We can’t let it bother us.”

Two-year incumbent WestWayne, Atlanta, is not participating.