Denny's recreation of viral video also goes viral

Inside Denny's Father's Day campaign.

Company: Denny’s
Campaign: Denny’s celebrates Father’s Day
Agency partners: Allison+Partners
Duration: June 2019

Comedian Deztin "DJ" Pryor and toddler Kingston Jierre charmed America in June thanks to a viral video that captured the father-son duo’s unique bond. 

"Our team saw the video just like the rest of America," said John Dillon, Denny’s chief brand officer.

Denny’s marketing team immediately knew it wanted to feature the two in a follow-up video set in one of its restaurants.

"The instant connection [Pryor and his son] had was a powerful, human moment, something that represented our brand really well," Dillon said.

Denny’s reached out to Pryor via Instagram. From there, everything came together quickly so that the video would be ready for Father’s Day. The father-son relationship was at the heart of the first video, and the company wanted to recreate the dynamic, plus highlight how Denny’s is the perfect place to celebrate "real family moments."

The video, shot in a Denny’s booth, was a repeat of the easy banter between Pryor and his son, just over eggs and pancakes.

The guiding principle was: "How do we get [Pryor and his son] to continue that conversation and give America more of that real human connection that made the first video so powerful," Dillon said. "We wanted to get out of the way and let them connect, and that’s exactly what you see."

The video was released on Father’s Day, which fell on July 16 and was posted on all of Denny’s social media channels. The PR team began reaching out to the media the next day.

As the video took off, Denny’s intensified its media outreach strategy, pitching top-tier outlets, local publications and broadcast shows to keep the momentum going.

Denny’s paid to promote the video on Facebook, but the ad spend was "nominal" and only lasted a day, according to a representative. 

Denny’s believed in the video’s virality, but the response "surpassed our expectations," Dillon said. It has been viewed nearly 11.7 million times on Facebook, where it generated over 519,000 reactions, 132,500 shares and 24,000 comments. On Twitter, it received an additional 1.6 million views, racking up 85,600 likes, 22,000 retweets and 1,280 replies.

The campaign earned 530 placements across online, broadcast and print. It was covered by CNN, USA Today, Delish, The Washington Post, Fox News, Good Housekeeping, and the "Today" show.

For Dillon, the main takeaway from the video’s success is that people are hungry for real human connections and that, when done respectfully, "it’s OK for brands to help facilitate that."

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