During a Q&A session following a speaking engagement in Chicago on Wednesday, I was asked for my opinion of Denny's Grand Slam Giveaway Super Bowl promotional spot by an executive in the audience. "Do you think it was a success?" he asked with a hint of skepticism in his voice. "I really don't know," I replied. "I have no idea what 'success' means to Denny's. I hope it means a sustained increased in profitable sales that exceeds the $5 million cost of the promotion." I went on to express my doubts that a one-off sales promotion with no follow-on behavioral incentives or cues would have that effect.
Denny's seems more optimistic. The company claims that it happily surpassed its estimate of giving away up to 2 million free breakfasts on the Tuesday following super Sunday. And get this, according to AdAge "[t]he promotion appears to have been effective based on most accepted ROI measures. Two million-plus breakfasts easily exceeds the 1% benchmark of giveaway success. Sunday's game had about 98 million viewers."
Most accepted ROI measures? Giveaway success? I can understand a requirement of a particular brand execution being to get people to try something new or improved. But the goal, and the methods required to achieve that goal, should be conceived in such a way that people eventually make the brand part of their lives; their habitual purchase behavior. To simply hope that this will happen based on the quality and value of one, post Super Bowl budget dining experience is wishful thinking at best.
Listen, the days of simpleminded marketing are long gone. Why? Because the days of simpleminded people are long gone. You're marketing to humans now; not easily manipulated, passive, and ignorant targets or robots. Smart, savvy, busy, skeptical, connected, curious human beings who, by the way, would stand in line for a free bag of dirt if they saw other human beings standing in the same line.