Denny’s had a simple, but serious, problem: It was so dull that people simply forgot to include it in their consideration set.

“Let me take you back to 2009,” John Dillon, svp/CMO at the 65-year-old Lakewood, California-based quick-service restaurant chain, said to 3,000 delegates at the Association of National Advertisers’ (ANA) 2018 Masters of Marketing Week.

“At the time, Denny’s business was down pretty seriously … People had memories of us, but they were in the past. They’d simply forgotten about us. Even when we were right there, in their own neighborhood, they drove by us.

“We’d become wallpaper. And that was what we had to fix.”


John Dillon, svp/CMO, Denny's

Working to the brand’s advantage were its history and scale: 1,700 restaurants in all 50 states. And more than 90% of its system was franchised with loyal partners.