Talk about the inspiration behind the “See you at Denny’s” campaign. Where did this idea begin?
The campaign is really an aggressive but natural evolution of the story we’ve been telling about the Denny’s brand as we’ve continued our revitalization journey here. One of the elements of the brand we’re proudest of is the naturally inclusive and welcoming nature of a diner – a place you can lay down your title at the door, let your guard down and come in to relax with great food in a comfortable, welcoming environment. We believe it’s differentiated within the restaurant category and it’s the essence of the America’s Diner positioning that has become our clear north star, as well as our brand purpose of feeding people’s bodies, minds and souls every single day. That’s what our collective Denny’s team—from front lines to our franchisees—are passionate about and in business for.
While we’ve seen solid success and continue to be pleased at our revitalization, we have more to do and we recognize that there are many potential guests that haven’t been to Denny’s in a while, a younger guest that maybe hasn’t been at all, or maybe even come for one particular daypart only. There’s business growth in turning a lapsed or light user into a guest that is welcome back into the Denny’s family. So we believe there’s so much more upside to continue to aggressively amplify our message and to welcome guests into the new Denny’s and continue to share the story of the changes we’ve made.
And with “See You at Denny’s” we wanted to do that in a way that aggressively shared our inclusivity—we are America’s Diner for today’s America, an America that by its very nature is diverse in all different ways. At Denny’s we believe we play a role in bringing people together to make connections, so with our new campaign in part we are welcoming all to come in, put any tensions aside over a fantastic meal and connect with family, friends or the local community in one of tables or our corner booths.
Diversity and inclusion have been big marketing points for Denny’s recently, between the new campaign and the Magic Johnson partnership. How important is this to the company internally, from employees to customers?
Quite simply, it’s critical and completely a part of who we are. In fact, “open to all” is one of our core guiding principles shared from top to bottom throughout our entire system. We view the word “open” as such a rich word. When we say we’re “open,” it’s both the literal translation of the word—since we are literally open 24/7, but even more importantly the emotional translation of “open”—open to all backgrounds, all beliefs, all expectations, and utilizing our position as America’s Diner to facilitate our restaurants being the place where people from all backgrounds feel welcome and are able to enjoy a meal while connecting with each other.
Our employees also recognize and have really embraced our recent amplification internally of our brand purpose to feed people—bodies, minds and souls—taken directly from the words of our founder Harold Butler in 1953. As we invite guests back to our restaurants with the new campaign, we want to ensure that our guests feel a part of our family, and that we always exceed our guests’ expectations, which is stressed upon throughout our new employee training program.
To attract the best team members to Denny’s, we launched a recruiting program in March with Earvin “Magic” Johnson, to further bolster our talent acquisition efforts. Partnering with Magic is a natural fit for us as his business acumen and commitment to building diverse workforces aligns well with Denny’s efforts and our passion for supporting the communities we serve. His assistance in our recruiting efforts will help us reach a broad audience to share skills and insights that will help them grow personally and professionally. We’re thrilled with this partnership, but I’d also say this is just one of many programs and partnerships that demonstrate our commitment to diversity and multicultural marketing over the years.