In an effort to draw more traffic from the 50-and-older demographic, Denny’s launched a promotional campaign last year that gives a 20 percent discount to anybody who shows his or her AARP card between 4 and 10 p.m. any day of the week.

Early results of the campaign, which were recently released by the company, prove the decision was a wise one. Eight months after launching the campaign through a full-page advertisement in the May/June 2010 issue of AARP The Magazine, Denny’s announced that two million AARP members have taken advantage of the discount.

The promotional campaign at Denny’s was the start of a three-year relationship between the brand and the AARP that will give dining benefits to AARP members.

Jim Fishman, senior vice president and group publisher of AARP Media Sales, says the success of Denny’s campaign proves the buying power of the older generations.

“The excitement in marketing is always the 18–24-year-olds,” Fishman says. “Television is full of it and a lot of the brand managers and assistant brand managers that do these plans are young themselves. The truth is, a huge proportion—by far the majority—of the money resides with people over 50.”

Fishman says marketers often hesitate to put their eggs in the older-generation basket for fear that it will pigeonhole them as a “brand for older people.”

“Part of the situation is that marketers understand that the 50-plus market has all of this money and the inclination to spend it, but there’s a certain amount of fear of how publicly they should go after that market,” he says.

Marketing through a channel like AARP The Magazine, Fishman says, is a good way for marketers to target an important demographic without backing a brand into a corner. “There’s an ability to engage with these people almost in a stealth kind of way,” he says.

Going against the norm by targeting an oft-overlooked demographic can pay dividends for a company, Fishman says, and Denny’s is proving it in spades.

“I give Denny’s a lot of credit,” he says. “If you’re in an industry where everybody’s going in one direction, your jumping on the bandwagon is really easy. But Denny’s is really one of the first ones to come to terms with this and say ‘This is a market we want to own.’

“We’re happy, Denny’s is happy, our members tell us they’re very happy to have this as a benefit of membership,” Fishman says. “It’s one of those things that works for everybody.”

By Sam Oches

Breakfast, Consumer Trends, Growth, Marketing & Promotions, News, Operations, Denny's