Denny’s Brings Back Customers, Fattens Them Up

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To shore up its lagging business, restaurant chain Denny’s ran an ad during this year’s Super Bowl promising a free breakfast the following Tuesday. A whopping 2 million patrons showed up for their Grand Slam meals. On April 8, they’re back again with a “bring a friend, get a free Grand Slamwich” offer. From a marketing perspective, these are great ideas. The Denny’s brand has gotten “soft” over the past few years and needed to reacquaint consumers with their offerings. By all measures, that objective has been met.

But Denny’s missed an even greater opportunity.

Instead of stuffing them up, they could have given their customers a free meal that didn’t register on the caloric Richter scale. They had a chance to send the signal that we want you back and we want you to keep coming back for a long time. A Grand Slam breakfast runs about 800 calories. Once you add a juice and a cup of coffee, you walk out loaded with 1000 calories. The Grand Slamwich tips the scales even more. Along with the hash browns it comes with, this meal hits 1,520 calories before you even get a chance to wash it down. That’s more than 5 Egg McMuffins®!

I’m all for giving the consumer a good deal. And I love a great marketing promotion. But given that 2/3’s of Americans are either overweight or obese, it’s time for food marketers to rethink their strategies and discover ways to attract and retain customers without overstuffing them. Lowering calories is the only way to make a dent into reducing our ever expanding waistlines. With 2/3’s of Denny’s breakfast entrees registering over 600 calories each and 100% of items over 400 calories, Denny’s has plenty of room to squeeze out some calories and make a tidy profit doing so.

Their prodigal customers will thank them.

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