Denny's used its Super Bowl ad to invite America to a free Grand Slam breakfast, and families with litters of children responded.
The offer was good from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m., and when I headed to my local Denny's at 1 p.m., the parking lot was still completely full, and cars were parked down the street. Even the adjacent vacant lot was half-full. All this for a free Grand Slam that retails for four bucks on weekdays.
People were standing in a line that extended out the door, patiently waiting in 10 degree weather for up to half an hour. For Denny's. Was this an advertising stunt gone wrong?
"I'd hate to be a waitress working at Denny's today," I heard one Nascar-jacket wearing gentleman say and then spit three feet from me. At that point, I decided a free meal wasn't worth the hassle. After tax, a coke, and a tip, I was planning on it costing me at least five dollars anyway, and so I headed down the street to Culvers.
Did Denny's really lose any money on this promotion? I rather doubt it. Two strips of bacon, two eggs, two sausage strips, and two pancakes probably runs them a dollar or so, and they surely made up the cost with all the overpriced cokes and OJ's they sold. In other words, any money they lost they made up in volume.
Maybe Denny's is on to something. Maybe they should give away their food for free all of the time.
What would you do for a free meal?
"There's no such thing as a free lunch." -- Milton Friedman