Baconalia Is Serious Business

Richard Lawson

Whenever you see something as snarkified and opportunistic as the Denny's web-culture driven styled Baconalia, let's not forget that at some office park somewhere, this is someone's job. As the restaurant chain revives its irony-laced Baconalia promotion, using "fail" videos and "memes" to promote its bacon-filled limited-time menu, a Denny's marketing VP tells Restaurant News, Baconalia 2.0 is especially serious business. In real-world terms, the promotion, which started on Tuesday, has put a bunch of new bacon items on the menu, created a special website, and hired popular web comedians to help promote the repeat of Baconalia. But let John Dillon, vice president   of brand marketing and product innovation translate that into PowerPoint for you:

We knew pretty soon after Baconalia that we wanted to come back to it, but the key was when. At the time, we had other ideas in the pipeline for the next year or two. So a two-year gap was about right for us. ...

From a product standpoint, it means bringing back the favorites while upping the ante. Clearly, the winner last time was the Maple Bacon Sundae, so we’re bringing it back, but now we have three bacon desserts.

In addition to the Maple Bacon Sundae (stick with your winners), there is also a Maple Bacon Milkshake (because who doesn't want to drink bacon!) and the Salted Caramel Brownie Sundae with Bacon. Plus there's all the savory bacon stuff, from BBQ Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese Bites to Bacon Pepper Jack Tilapia. (Who doesn't want to order the fish at Denny's?) But who is this all for? Well, men who like Internet jokes, it seems.

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They've hired Rhett & Link, a YouTube duo who make videos with titles like "EPIC RAP BATTLE of MANLINESS" and "How to Kill a Mustache" and who have written a song about bacon, to make some videos for the promotion. They've also partnered with FAIL Blog and currently have a bunch of "fail" videos turned into ads on the official Baconalia website. So they're going for that kind of guy, who likes fails and image macros and stuff like that. Denny's is doing all this hustling for a reason; they saw a 1.4 percent sales growth during the last Baconalia, which was covered on blogs and became something of a viral entity. Wanting to cash in on that web cachet, they've upped the humor quotient of the promotion pretty heavily for Baconalia 2.0 — oh yeah, there's also an ironically ugly Baconalia commemorative plate you can buy for $25. It says "Crispy Goodness" on it, because "Crispy Goodness" is I guess the kind of thing that the ideal Baconalia customer laughs at. So it's all very involved and thought-out, this whimsical bacon menu that's a pun for ancient Greek wine orgies.

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But really doesn't everyone like bacon? Just say "Hey here's some bacon" and people will come running. We don't need Denny's to gussy it up with hip web junk. Yes, the whole bacon trend is a bit passe at this point so maybe they felt they needed to scramble, but we're not talking about some farm-to-table restaurant in Brooklyn. We're talking about Denny's. People will always want to eat BBQ Bacon Mac 'n' Cheese Bites at Denny's. There needn't be a marketing hook for it. But I suppose it's good at least that they're thinking of innovative ways to sell their product. Somewhere vice presidents are having a very good meeting right now. Now, how could they get Kickstarter involved...