Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Did the online video featuring Amy Poehler convince you to eat at Denny’s?

In an effort to attract Gen Y consumers, Denny’s has been airing a series of online videos called Always Open.

Each video features a celebrity interview conducted by David Koechner. Interviewees include Will Forte, Kristen Bell and Sarah Silverman. While the interviews take place in actual Denny’s locations, food is not the topic of conversation.

The goal of the videos is to portray Denny’s as a comfortable and welcoming place where people can enjoy good food and open conversation. (Corr, 2011)
That’s an interesting idea. But, it suggests that twentysomethings are more interested in the atmosphere of the restaurants they frequent than the food that’s served. Do you think this is true? And did you see the videos before you clicked on the link above?

Corr, A. (2011, April 11) To Attract Younger Demo, Denny’s Online Series Lets Comics Talk Freely. Retrieved May 25, 2011, from


  1. Angelit Meza Guzman
    In my opinion it is true. Gen Y consumers are confident to demand their needs, use technology to find what they want and above all they are looking for brands that earn their trust.
    Considering this last characteristic, the ad’s message fulfills one of their needs, to make them feel comfortable and have fun while eating good food.
    I haven’t seen these commercials before, but after going over them and looking at Denny’s website I could probably understand why they chose this kind of approach.
    59% of their fan bases are females and mostly from Los Angeles, where famous American comedians are often choose to do commercials. So, I would probably say it could work for this target; however we’ll have to wait to talk about results.
    I haven't seen the videos before but now I watched a few of them. I
    like the idea of not talking about food when promoting a restaurant
    and I think they nailed the goal you have mentioned. I totally agree
    that young people don't put as much emphasis on the meal itself when
    going out to eat with somebody. In those cases food is completely

    Also i think the headline "Always Open" is very effective. It creates
    a consciousness that no matter how late it is you will always have a
    place to sit down for some food, drinks, etc. While this maybe not as
    effective in the big cities, like New York, where there's a lot of
    places open all night, I think it is really effective in the suburbs
    where most places close at 9pm or 10pm.

  2. Natalie
    Now, regarding the Amy Poehler video, I can say that it definitely didn´t persuade me to eat at Denny´s.

    It is my opinion that in this particular case the goal of "portraying Denny´s as a comfortable and welcoming place where people can enjoy good food and open conversation" (Corr, 2011) is not well achieved for many reasons.

    First of all, regarding the "good food" part, the fact that the dessert that both of them order is showed only at the beginning of the video, it looks very small when they put it on the table, and they almost don´t eat it during the interview. I think that in other videos of the same series, like the one with Will Arnett, they achieve this very well by having Will eating a sandwich of very good proportions, which makes it easier to see, during the whole video, and making it look like it is amazingly flavory!

    Second, It seems to me that Amy Poehler is far from comfortable and "opening" in this interview, in fact it looks like she is feeling a bit of repulsiveness from Dave Koechner, and again, compared to other videos like, for example, the one with Sara Silverman, where she kind of opens herself a little bit more and it seems like they´re enjoying the conversation and the atmosphere and having some fun this one doesn´t feel like that.

    I think that sometimes people go to restaurants because of the atmosphere, but I also think that it depends on the type of business.
    In my opinion, Denny´s is the kind of restaurant where people want to go because there is good, well served food, and yes, the atmosphere is important but not as much as the food.

    This was the first time i´ve ever seen the videos, and although I think they are funny, other that the one with Will Arnett, none of them really made me want to go to Denny´s.

  3. Austin
    I enjoyed watching the video with Amy and Dave, a few things came to mind when watching the video, first what a simple idea to set a chat show in a diner, from a branded entertainment stand point its a very good idea and smart of college humor to branch out. As far as making me want to eat a Denny's, it didn't really make me want to go there, they seem to have done a nice job of redecorating to create a more upscale feel, much like Ruby Tuesdays has done. We live in NYC, the land of a thousand diners, I wouldn't seek out a Denny's to go and eat,honestly I'm not even sure there are any in the city? Yet this might work in other parts of the country where 24 hr dining is limited.
    I have not seen these videos before, but I believe that in spite of not describing or giving more information about Denny's products, the videos have their way of reaching to the Generation Y. I believe the use of celebrities was made very careful, as I think each one of them represents a button that activates desire to at least try Denny's for the Y Generation. They are all actors, but I think people recall better their roles in movies or TV shows. Therefore, Jason Bateman - the cool adoptive father to be in Juno, Amy Poehler - Leslie Knope in Parks and Recreation, trying to make her Indiana's town a cleaner, better place , Will Arnelt - a gay powerful but funny manager want to be in 30 Rock, they all are meant to reach for the environmentally, socially and health strong awareness of Gen Y. Secondly we are able to see the food that one might order while at Denny's and what's more appealing in my opinion, is the fact that the characters appear to enjoy it. However I do not see the link between celebrities eating salads, sandwiches and deserts, while engaged in a humorous, a little awkward conversations, with "always open". We can not see many people in the restaurant, maybe because it is late in the night and that is why the lack of people. We see mostly twentysomethings, although in the video featuring Jason Bateman, we can see behind him a couple of 40 and something enjoying their meal. That might be because Gen Y individuals admire the taste of their elders. Overall I believe that the Generation Y enjoys the company of a friend more than the actual food.

  4. Tracey
    I think these videos have a few things right when connecting to the Gen Y population. They use widely popular comedian/actors and play off awkward conversations and sarcasm, which is a very popular form of humor. I like the concept of “always open” and the strange conversations that can happen any time of day. I can see myself passing along a couple of these videos virally to friends. There is also a good balance of plugging the Denny’s logo enough into the scene while still retaining an authentic feel instead of a regular advertisement. I can see these videos expanding brand awareness due to entertaining content, but it doesn’t necessarily make me want to go.
    This is my first time seeing these ads. After watching four of them, my desire to go to Denny’s hasn’t increased much. While research shows that Gen Y is interested in ambiance more than food, the ambience isn’t exciting here. And the food looks pretty regular. I do like the very beginning of each ad when you see the close up of the food being delivered to the table. Those small clips did wet my appetite marginally. Once on the table, however, the food wasn’t particularly interesting. I think Will Arnett and Jason Bateman do a good job of being really into what they’re eating and making it appetizing. I also enjoyed Sarah Silverman’s reminder that Denny’s has crayons to play with. But the awkwardness and creepiness inflicted by the interviewer, Dave Koechner, doesn’t work here. While I think it’s an entertaining exchange, that type of dialogue makes me more grossed out than enticed to eat. Amy Poehler is a good example. She looks very uncomfortable the entire time, which I understand from a humor standpoint, but I think it accidentally translates to being uncomfortable at Denny’s as well. It definitely doesn’t meet their goals to portray the restaurant as open and welcoming.
    As far as how I perceive my generation’s interest in ambience rather than quality of food, I think it runs in a spectrum. I think a great ambience works to attract Gen Y customers if the food is at least average. I don’t think a great ambience can completely make up for bad food. I also think people in my generation are very interested in going to hole in the wall restaurants with little ambience but amazing food. But that could be because I’m in an urban environment with many “foodie” types. With the great options of restaurants in New York, it’s only enticing to go to a restaurant with an average ambience and average food if the meal is unusually inexpensive, which could work for Denny’s. But considering there are no Denny’s in Manhattan, I’m probably not the target. I’d imagine in other areas they could be more frequented spots.
    I think the concept of these ads isn’t entirely wrong, but they need improvement. I think the focus should be more of an interesting conversation with jokes scattered in, an opportunity for fans get to know their favorite stars better. It should look like they are having a great time. There should be more close ups of the food as they are eating it. I like the idea of “always open” and think there could be more humor around the types of situations that occur late at night or early in the morning. These ads looks like it could be any time during the day – which doesn’t really tie into the fact that Denny’s is always open.

  5. Ali
    I believe that the atmosphere in a restaurant is important but the principal reason that I go to a restaurant is the food that they offer. If I find a not so fancy place that has an incredible food and I would definetely visit it again.
    I really don't feel that that video makes me go to Denny's. I found the interviews boring, they do not catch the viewers attention and they even make denny's look appropriate for uncomfortable and awkward dinner dates. Maybe is because I am not their target.
    After reviewing your blog and watching the videos I actually agree with Denny's marketing tactics in this campaign. I attended the University of Vermont in Burlington, Vermont. In Burlington, after the bars close at 2:00 am, we would routinely need a place to go eat, but more importantly, re-cap the night. I can't imagine many of the other young adults around college age would be any different. Going to Denny's, the food really wasn't what pulled us there, it was the fact that we had a place to go late night to wrap up our night, while of course, having something to satisfy our appetites. I think Denny's is on the right track with their campaign and portraying the restaurant as a welcoming place open at any hour is a good idea.

  6. Johanna
    I have never been to Denny's restaurant. Being from originally from France, I kept my french traditions when it comes to healthy food.

    On the other hand, the celebrity endorsement used by Denny's in this serie of online videos is effective at some point. I am a "twentysomething" and after, not only seeing the video featuring Amy Poehler but also with Jason Bateman and Sarah Silvermann, I do want to go to Denny's to check out the restaurant and have the experience. But this campaign did not and will not turn me from a non consumer to a regular customer at Denny's restaurant.

    Demographics play a major role in my decisions. Living in New York City, I am constantly influenced by ads which encourages me to eat healthy, green food and I let myself being influenced by them because this is the reference group that I want to be associated with.

    But for a 17 year old, still living with her/his parents in the suburbs, who needs to have a "cool spot" to hang out after class or with friendsabout and does not care yet about eating healthy food , this campaign will have a better chance to influence his actions.

    I often check online new videos featuring celebrity of all kinds but I have never seen this video before.
    I think the campaign would have been more effective if it had a more specific target market, focusing on teenagers rather than the larger group that falls under the umbrella of "Gen Y". Teenagers are always looking for places to "hang out", and I think the statement that "twentysomethings are more interested in the atmosphere of the restaurants they frequent than the food that’s served" certainly rings true for those 13-18. However, I think that once you reach your twenties, other factors become more important when making decisions on where to eat - cost, health, environmental footprint, etc.
    Also, it’s hard for me to provide personal insight on the effectiveness of this campaign to motivate Gen-Yers, because although I technically fall into this category, I’m also a New Yorker, and I feel NYers have a different attitude towards food and dining than the rest of the country. (Dining out is a past time here and restaurants are celebrated both for cuisine and atmosphere/environment )
    And no, I've never seen these videos before this blog post.

  7. I believe that twentysomethings are more interested in the atmosphere of a restaurant than in food, but I am not convinced the ambiance is exciting here. We can not see many people, and the place doesn't appeal to me. It seems more a place where people don't speak to others. I mean they only speak with the people at their table, people they already know. In some video, I am not even sure that there are discussions at other tables. Moreover, as Natalie mentioned, "Amy Poehler is far from comfortable and 'opening' in this interview," she seems affraid by Dave Koechner's manners. I just hope she is not as reluctant for the food!
    That was the first time I saw the video, and it definitely didn´t make me want to go at Denny´s. I think those interviews are awkward and not appropriate to attract the Gen Y.

  8. Marybel Velasco

    After watching some of the Dennys videos for the campaign, I think that using comedians for commercial purposes could be a very good idea if the execution is perfect. In this case I don´t think they work in promoting the restaurant.

    As a "twentysomething" when it comes to eating I look for a 360º experience; food as well as ambience and decoration is a must for me.

    I think in this case the campaign could work but don´t know exactly if the core target will feel the bond with the restaurant, in my case as I am from another country and another culture the spots were boring as I have another type and sense of humor. I guess we will have to wait and see if the campaign reflects on the sales

  9. I don’t think that the Denny’s “Always Open” series of videos implies that twentysomethings are less concerned with the food served in a restaurant than the atmosphere the establishment provides. The recent foodie and food-blogger explosion can attest to the twentysomething obsession and fetishization of food. However, after eating the most obscure heirloom sea-cucumbers, organic wild caught fowl, and rare gazelles it is plausible that a twentysomething with the most exquisite and discerning palate could crave the comfort of a grilled cheese sandwich or a simple slice of pie…. Especially if that craving strikes at 2:45AM.
    The play on words in the “Always Open” series, references the fact that many Denny’s restaurants adhere to the Diner model and remain open 24-hours a day. Subtly reminding twentysomethings (who are notorious for keeping odd hours due to reasons ranging from all night cram sessions to all out clubbing and partying benders) is certainly a great idea.
    Sure, the ability to converse and socialize in a laid back environment that isn’t a loud bar, cramped studio apartment, or an outdoor bench near a busy road is often a welcome change of pace. It is especially welcome for boomerang twentysomethings who had to return home due to unforeseen circumstances. Those particular people want nothing more than to gladly escape the family abode for an hour or two, without decimating what meager budget they have. It’s also appealing to college kids who grow claustrophobic of their small dorm rooms and also have a limited amount of money to spend. That is probably one of the reasons this series of videos was posted to
    The appeal of “a change of scenery” coupled with the approachability and familiarity of the ubiquitous Denny’s restaurant chain creates an enticing combination.
    So in regards to this series of ads sending the message that for twentysomethings, the atmosphere of a restaurant trumps the food being served, I have to disagree. I feel that twentysomethings may feel equally ambivalent about both things.
    The bottom line is that Denny’s are often open when other restaurants are closed, they offer simple, unpretentious fare (which is both comforting and affordable), and there is no sign hanging overhead threatening a “30 minute time limit” for seating— like in many other fast-food joints. It’s a sensible and obvious option for Gen-Y diners.
    With that in mind, I feel that this series of videos falls short of the mark.
    The bizarre and claustrophobic nature of the interaction between David Koechner and the comedians seated across from him suggests to me that if I set foot into a Denny’s, I’m likely to be treated to a veritable interrogation, personal space violations, conversations regarding gruesome mutilation, murder, and a plethora of morbid topics ranging from wild animal attacks, cannibalism, and the like. Not a casual, friendly social experience.
    I haven’t seen these videos before now and after viewing them a handful of times, I am fairly certain that I never want to see them again. This entire series overall, left a bad taste in my mouth. And no, it doesn’t convince me to eat at Denny’s.