New Denny’s Marketing Chief Adds a Contender

After Bernstein-Rein was dropped from the $50 million Denny’s Restaurants review earlier this month, it appeared the winner would be one of three finalists.

But last week a late entry emerged. Dailey & Associates in West Hollywood, Calif., joined Doner in Southfield, Mich., Mullen in Winston-Salem, N.C., and Publicis in Mid America in Dallas as the review draws to a close.

Dailey is banking on both its restaurant experience and its long- standing ties to Margaret Jenkins, new chief marketing officer at Denny’s, to win the business, said agency president Brian Morris.

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 said Denny’s would not represent a conflict for the shop be cause the chain’s family-style dining format does not compete with El Pollo Loco. He declined to say if the shop had ap proached Jen kins or if she initiated contact.

Prior to Dailey’s inclusion, the three other contenders 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 Spartanburg, S.C., headquarters six weeks ago, said last week 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. I won’t make a decision if I don’t think it’s right.”

Her statements, given her ties to Dailey, 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.”

Incumbent WestWayne in At lanta, which had the account for two years, did not participate in the re view, which is be ing overseen by The Rojek Cutcher Group in Cleveland.

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