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Denny's Hires Comics for 'Always Open' Videos

  |  March 11, 2011   |  Comments

Series centers on diner talk between David Koechner and comedians like Jason Bateman.

Denny's is behind a new video series in which David Koechner, actor and comedian of "Anchorman" fame, chats with a parade of popular young comics.

In the first video, which went live on CollegeHumor.com this week, Koechner quizzes an uncomfortable Jason Bateman while the two share a meal in America's Diner. Future installments will feature Will Arnett, Sarah Silverman, Amy Poehler, Will Forte and Kristin Bell.

The effort is part of Denny’s "Always Open" campaign that launched in January with TV and radio spots. The online videos were created by DumbDumb, a production studio led by Bateman and Arnett that launched last June. DumbDumb has produced branded comedy shorts for Wrigley’s Orbit gum and Old Navy.

DumbDumb worked with Denny’s New York ad agency Gotham on the effort, which aims to capture something of the randomness of diner conversations. Marty Orzio, chief creative officer at Gotham, said, “The little bit of comfort everyone feels in a diner can be captured by the comedians' conversations. It fits with the position of Denny’s as the American diner that’s always open.”

The videos were shot in a Los Angeles Denny’s and include shots of other customers and Denny’s staff. A Denny’s logo appears on table displays and at the first video's end.

Denny's and Gotham opted to distribute the videos through CollegeHumor Media, which is owned by DumbDumb investor IAC. They will appear on CollegeHumor.com, CollegeHumor’s YouTube page, and on other network sites dorkly.com, sportspickle.com and todaysbigthing.com. Videos are also available on Dennys.com, and on the chain's Facebook page and YouTube channel.

CollegeHumor promoted the videos ahead of time with a :30 teaser spot, as well as display ads and home page skins on its websites. In addition, e-mails went out to Denny’s 1.6 million rewards members, Orzio said.

Denny's VP of marketing John Dillon hopes the series connect with younger folks who don't normally visit its restaurants. “We want to reach a younger generation and to do that you have to be different and go beyond traditional media,” he said. “We’ve upped the social media presence at Facebook and Twitter, too.”

CollegeHumor declined to provide viewer numbers on its sites, but the initial Bateman video on its YouTube page accumulated more than 141,000 views in its first week, in addition to roughly 3,200 views on Denny’s YouTube page.

New episodes will be posted every two to three weeks, and the series may be extended. “If it proves successful we’ll expand it beyond L.A. and see where it goes,” Dillon said.

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