DENNY'S Film, Digital ALWAYS OPEN by Gotham

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Industry Restaurants, Pubs & Bars
Media Film, Digital, Interactive & Mobile
Market United States
Agency Gotham
Director Jerry Collins
Art Director Dustin Smith, Natalie Chambers
Copywriter Stephen Lundberg
Producer Letitia Jacobs
Released June 2011


Cannes Lions 2012
Branded content & entertaiment lions Best fictional program, series or film where a client has successfully created a drama, comedy or miniseries around a product or brand Silver

Credits & Description

Type of entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best fictional program, series or film where a client has successfully created a drama, comedy or miniseries around a product or brand
Advertiser: DENNY'S
Agency: GOTHAM New York, USA
Advertiser DENNY'S
Entrant GOTHAM New York, USA
Type of Entry: Branded Entertainment
Category: Best fictional program, series or film where a client has successfully created a drama, comedy or miniseries around a product or brand
Advertiser/Client: DENNY'S
Entrant Company: GOTHAM New York, USA
DM/Advertising Agency: GOTHAM New York, USA
2nd DM/Advertising Agency: DUMBDUMB PRODCUTIONS West Hollywood, USA
Director: Jerry Collins ()
Creator/Producer: Jason Bateman (Dumbdumb)
Creator/Producer: Will Arnett (Dumbdumb)
Content Distribution: Ben Silverman (Electus)
Distribution Partner: Ensemble (Ensemble)
Producer: Letitia Jacobs (Gotham)
Chief Creative Officer: Marty Orzio (Gotham)
Art Director: Natalie Chambers (Gotham)
Copywriter: Stephen Lundberg (Gotham)
Describe the campaign/entry
Branded Entertainment is rapidly growing in the US and is emerging as a leading alternative media strategy. The difficulty of reaching an increasingly consumers, who (1) have more ways to ignore and filter out brand messages than ever before and (2) the transformation of communications due to these developments, have made it more important than ever for brands in the US to invest in branded entertainment. In 2010, advertisers spent over $25bn on branded entertainment and that number is expected to reach over $38bn by 2014, a 9.2% compound annual growth rate.


Our challenge was to reintroduce Denny’s to a younger audience and capture the essence of the Denny’s experience - the openness, the comfort, and the fun - all in the digital space.
To do so, we decided to develop an original web series, one that would allow us to create content that was entertaining and relevant to our younger audience while reinforcing the Denny’s brand strategy. We teamed up a production company to bring our idea of a comedic interview show, to life. We called it, ‘Always Open’.
Every decision we made about content was done through an ‘open’ filter. We selected David Koechner, perhaps best known from his role in Anchorman, as host because both his real life and on-screen personas mirrored the laid back and approachable nature of the Denny’s consumer. We decided to make every episode entirely unscripted. After all, improvisation is spontaneous, genuine, and inherently open in nature. We briefed Dave to try and get his guests to open up, to reveal things about themselves that fans wouldn’t have learned any place else. And so, of course, we leaned towards guests who could improvise, were fun, and genuine. People like Sarah Silverman, Will Arnett, Amy Poehler, Jason Bateman, Will Forte and Kristen Bell. In addition, to the client’s credit, they were surprisingly open about letting the conversation go where it might. Whether the dialogue veered to STDs, sleeping in the nude, or other touchy subjects, it was authentic and it made it into the show. The comfort food and cosy environment of a Denny’s booth made it all possible.

Describe the creative solution to the brief/objective.

To get the word out about the Always Open series, we took a 2-pronged approach that utilised both paid and earned channels. For paid media, we teamed up with the leader in comedy-driven entertainment targeting Millennials: college humour. Within, we had a unique URL to house all of the videos when they were released as well as being featured on the homepage and their social media channels. For earned media, we utilised social media and blogger outreach to drive word-of-mouth. We reached out to celebrity, entertainment, and fan bloggers to promote individual episodes and the series overall.

Describe the results in as much detail as possible.

Our primary objective for Always Open has been to increase positive perceptions and talk worthiness of the Denny’s brand specifically among Millennials.
Our perceptual rating as measured by Brandindex doubled, leaping from a 16.2 to 32.
Our Buzz rating also nearly doubled, increasing from 36.1 to 66.1.
Videos received over 6m views.
In fact, a Yougov Brand Index from March 2011, covering the Always Open timeframe, shows that perceptions among Millennials increased so much they came to rate us even more highly than the adults who traditionally represented our core consumer.
Even trade industry experts were impressed:
“Thanks to Denny’s new celebrity web series called ‘Always Open’, they are the hottest brand online for the 18 - 34 demo" - Nation’s Restaurant News 4.18.11
Since the launch of Always Open web series, Denny’s has experienced its most successful business results in 5 years. Foot traffic, guest check average, and overall sales are in positive territory for the first time since 2006. (Source: Client’s daily in-store tracking, 2011)
So, while Millennials are just one part of our diverse customer base, our success in getting them re-engaged with the brand has in turn helped power the overall renaissance of the brand.