Dailey Jumps Into Denny’s Review at 11th Hour

When Denny’s Restaurants cut Bernstein-Rein from its $50 million review earlier this month, it appeared the winner would be one of the three remaining finalists.

But last week, Dailey & Asso ciates in West Hollywood, Calif., emerged as a late entrant, joining Doner in Southfield, Mich., Mullen in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Publicis in Mid America in Dallas in the final stages of the review.

Dailey is banking on its restaurant experience and a tie to Denny’s new chief marketing officer, Margaret Jenkins, to win the business, said agency president Brian Morris.

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

Morris maintained that Denny’s family-style dining format would not conflict with the fast-food chain. He declined to say if the shop had approached Jenkins or if she initi ated the contact.

Prior to Dailey’s inclusion, the three other shops had been given an assignment that Jenkins said would encompass creative, media merchandising and “all the pieces of the communications puzzle.”

Jenkins, who arrived at Denny’s in Spartanburg, S.C., six weeks ago, added that if a clear winner did not emerge, she would expand the search. “The process started [last March] before I came on board,” she said. “Right now, I’m comfortable [with the contenders], but I reserve the right to inject my opinion.”

Given her ties to Dailey, Jenkins’ statements were greeted with skepticism by at least one finalist. “Sure, we know about Dailey,” said one agency executive. “We can’t let it bother us.”

Incumbent WestWayne, Atlanta, did not participate in the review, which is be ing overseen by The Rojek Cutcher Group in Cleveland.

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