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Denny’s taps NASCAR star for mobile-enhanced content in restaurants

Restaurant chain Denny’s is teaming up with NASCAR driver Denny Hamlin to introduce a mobile “Denny’s Denny’s” location that travels with the star on his racing trips, and is leveraging QR codes in restaurants nationwide as well as selfie booths to spread the word via smartphone users.

The brand will enable racing enthusiasts and its customers to visit the custom Denny’s Denny’s as it moves from with Mr. Hamlin from track to track. To celebrate their visits, consumers are encouraged to snap selfies in diner booths and upload them to their social media applications, and also visit the Denny’s mobile app for more exclusive content.

“Mobile engagement is one of the quickest and most effective ways to reach our customers, and with an interactive program like ‘Denny’s Denny’s’ it plays a key role in bringing the program to life,” said to Erik Jensen, senior director of brand engagement for Denny’s, Spartanburg, SC.

“Our guests are always looking to access easy and engaging materials while on the go, and having ‘Denny’s Denny’s’ elements, like videos and photos, available through our mobile app allows them to take part in the program from anywhere.”

Mobile-optimized content
Guests may visit the mobile-optimized site for the chance to enter a sweepstakes to meet Mr. Hamlin himself, watch exclusive videos and enter to win a prize package including four tickets to the October NASCAR race in Charlotte, airfare, accommodations, a $750 gift card to Denny’s and more.

The chain has also created a movable Denny’s Denny’s booth that will join Mr. Hamlin on the road as he competes in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. The booth, which features the star’s syrup gas tanks and famous fork collection, will be accompanying him to Denny’s locations in Fort Worth, TX, Charlotte, NC and Daytona Beach, FL on April 11, May 24 and July 5, respectively.

Mr. Hamlin will personally be at these locations at select times to sign autographs and hand out giveaways.

Fans that visit the Denny’s Denny’s locations can swap selfies for “boothie” in the diner by posing for a snapshot inside and superimposing photos of Mr. Hamlin next to them. These “boothies” can then be shared with consumers’ friends and family via social media networks such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

The brand hopes this will spread awareness of Denny’s and its offerings among the millennial generation, which is extremely active on mobile.

“The ‘boothies’ are a fun, free and unique element of the ‘Denny’s Denny’s’ program,” Mr. Jensen said. “They allow our guests and fans at the races to capture their experience inside ‘Denny’s Denny’s’ and engage with both the brand and program on a level that they’re comfortable with.

“It also provides wider sharing opportunities and another way to connect with new and existing guests across the country.”

Leveraging mobile strategy
For those consumers who cannot make the Denny Hamlin-stamped visits during his racing season, the restaurant chain is encouraging customers to visit locations nationwide and scan the QR code on its placemats via smartphones, or download the Denny’s mobile application.

There, the brand is offering exclusive videos featuring Mr. Hamlin talking about his love for Denny’s. Mobile users will also be able to view fan “boothies,” behind-the-scenes tours of Denny’s Denny’s and more.

The brand has been placing higher focus on reaching younger demographics via mobile strategy.

A Denny’s executive at the 2015 Mobile Marketing Association Forum New York revealed that location-based messages and advertisements have resulted in ramping up the restaurant brand’s in-store visits, proving that targeted data is imperative for food and beverage marketers to drive sales (see story).

The brand also believes that placing QR codes on placemats in restaurants will boost in-app engagement.

“We’re always looking to engage with our audiences through various technology platforms, and QR codes are a great way for our guests to access unique content while they’re dining with us,” Mr. Jensen said. “There is no greater merchandising opportunity than the placemat, especially while guests are waiting for their meals as it gives them something to do and another way to interact with the brand.

“The QR code for ‘Denny’s Denny’s’ gives our diners easy access to all of the program elements via, including behind-the-scenes videos and ‘boothies’ from across the country.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York