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Not quite a Grand Slam - February 5th, 2009

On Tuesday, Denny’s gave away free Grand Slam breakfasts for eight hours.  That’s right, free breakfast.  Sadly, I didn’t hear about this until Wednesday.  I suppose I should have watched the Super Bowl after all.  The promotion was a huge success with an additional 2 million customers showing up for the free eggs and pancakes.  In addition, the story was flogged just about everywhere.  I thought this was both brilliant marketing, and a great thing to do considering all the financial doom and gloom which surrounds us.  Apparently, not everyone agrees with me.

I won’t point you to the various blogs and articles criticizing the “corporate giant” for “trying to buy customers” with their “heart attacks on a plate”.  I asked around and was surprised by the reactions I got when I told people of Denny’s offer.  For the most part, the first thing people said was “well it’s just a marketing gimmick”.  So what?  Of course it’s marketing.  Does that make it evil?  Apparently in the minds of many, it does.

If not the marketing angle, people seemed to be upset at the nutritional value of the Grand Slam.  CNN was kind enough to point out that the Grand Slam contains 44 grams of fat and a total of 770 calories.  So what?  Would you expect much less from eggs, bacon, sausages and pancakes?  Would it be better had they offered free yogurt and cereal?

I know it’s popular to be anti-corporate.  I know people want to act like marketing doesn’t affect them or that advertising is inherently evil.  The fact remains that for eight hours on Tuesday anyone could walk into their local Denny’s and get a free meal.  I don’t know about you, but I can’t remember ever getting a free meal at a restaurant.  Outside of your mother’s house, where is there such thing as a free lunch?

Are we really that jaded?  There were no strings attached to this offer.  You didn’t have to buy a drink, sign up for their newsletter or anything else.  Just sit down, and eat.  If you don’t like Denny’s or are watching your diet, don’t go.  Is it really necessary to trash them for this?

We all use marketing to our advantage.  We’re all salesmen.  Whether you like it or not, you’re just the same as Denny’s.  We’ve all tried to get a date with someone.  We’ve all been to job interviews.  Look in your closet and tell me you don’t market yourself.  I’m betting your facebook profile doesn’t have a picture of you first thing in the morning.

Nobody gets upset when a popular charity sends out a flyer or runs a TV ad.  Nobody cries about the $700 million Obama spent on his campaign or the anti-drug ads the government runs.  Che Guevara’s image is one of the most merchandized in existence.  We just get upset when we don’t like the person or organization doing the marketing.  Instead of being bitter at Denny’s could we not just thank them for a free meal?

As for myself, I went to Denny’s yesterday and had an omelette with bacon, home fries, pancakes and toast.  I figured it was the least I could do, and it was delicious.  I was almost happy to pay them as a thank you on behalf of all the people they served on Tuesday.  As usual, I left a One Dollar Nation business card on the table.




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