How Denny’s Was Won

Publicis in Mid America’s extensive research into Denny’s brand was a major reason the shop won the chain’s estimated $50 million general-market account, the agency said.

President and chief operating officer Steve Price also said the shop’s strengths in strategic positioning, media and creative helped it best Mullen of Winston-Salem, N.C., Doner in Southfield, Mich., and Dailey & Associates of West Hollywood, Calif. Incumbent WestWayne in Atlanta did not participate in the review.

Publicis gained much of its in-sight into Denny’s brand by speaking to customers of competing restaurants in eight markets across the U.S. The shop also brought “non-users” into Denny’s to learn more about their impressions of the chain.

“We found the brand has tremendous equity, even though the business has had its ups and downs,” Price said. “Our charge is to leverage that brand and bring it forward in a relevant manner.”

Same store sales were down 1.7 percent in June and off 0.4 percent for the quarter, according to Denny’s. The chain has closed 49 company and 74 franchised restaurants during the last year. There are currently 1,714 Denny’s locations.

The Spartanburg, S.C.-based client wants Publicis to improve its “perception and performance,” said client representative Debbie Atkins. “We’re focused on improving customer service and product quality in our restaurants, so that’s the message we want to get out to consumers.”

Publicis’ first work will break in early 2003. For the past year Denny’s has been airing WestWayne’s TV spots that star famous duos, including Kermit the Frog and Miss Piggy.