Denny’s 2020 brand mission was clear: Use the diner booth to bring more people together. Then, COVID hit and self-isolation took over. With 'Always Open' locations now not always being open, we needed a new way to connect people. To remind them that Denny’s isn’t just a place to chow down on some good grub, it’s a network of diners that get to know their regulars, and genuinely care about the people they serve. We needed to get close to our fans… Metaphorically speaking, of course.
Then, the gamers in our offices noticed a trend. People, a lot of whom had never played any video games in their lives, started to turn toward this form of entertainment/escapism. They realized with the press of a button they were in another world, not their apartment that was quickly running out of snacks. Consoles flew off the shelves… Especially Nintendo Switches bundled with the newly-released and glowingly-reviewed 'Animal Crossing: New Horizons.'
We hopped on Twitter, and shared our gamertags for each major platform, concentrating on Animal Crossing so we could build virtual Denny’s franchises and invite real fans to own them. We held digital island inspections, gave out unique discount codes for real food, designed in-game official SWAG, held parties where people could visit our island, and even streamed live with a pro-gamer and all his followers. We picked up press, but most importantly, we connected gamers. We made new friends. And we built affinity for a brand that will need dedicated diners when all of this is over.
And while we’re still not entirely sure how two of our creatives managed to convince a client to let them play video games… We’re super glad they did.