Denny’s Facebook Live gambit: an animated talking pancake
Denny’s is coming to Facebook Live to answer the question none of us were asking: What would a pancake say if it could talk?
For its Facebook Live debut tomorrow, Denny’s will combine animation and voice synthesizing software to bring a pancake to life. The anthropomorphic pancake will respond to comments as they trickle in. The live stream is a follow-up to its popular animated web series called “The Grand Slams,” which features animated versions of popular menu items and has garnered over 62 million views since its launch in 2014.
“This is clearly part of our broader social and digital strategy to engage with our fans,” said John Dillon, chief marketing officer at Denny’s. “We’re always looking for new ways to use our brand voice and extend the real-life conversations that happen in our diners in the digital space.”
A team of four from agency Erwin Penland will be working behind-the-scenes, using an animator app on tablets coupled with a voice synthesizer to respond to users’ questions during the live stream. The animator app contains over 200 different facial and body movements that can be combined with voice and overlaid on the pancake in real-time.
“This activation truly allows users to have a one-to-one interaction with our ‘Grand Slams’ characters,” said Curtis Rose, director of creative technology at Erwin Penland. “We can call on any action on the animator app and make the pancake perform whatever we want — it’s exactly like puppets, only that the strings are all digital.”
The agency has been working on the technology behind the activation as a side project for over a year, added Rose. While it has experimented with it for other clients, Denny’s made the most sense, he said, because the live stream also doubles as a live auction giveaway. In a “Grand Slams” episode that spoofed QVC-style shows from earlier in the year, the brand gave away nearly 1,500 different pieces of swag. This time, the chain will again direct viewers to free Denny’s swag through the live stream.
The brand has also been hinting at tomorrow’s live stream on its social platforms.
Better pancakes call for a better fork. Visit our FB page next Tues to get your own Pancake ForkPro & other swag.https://t.co/N5ratvwPQm
— Denny’s (@DennysDiner) August 8, 2016
Denny’s has tried Periscope before — including a behind-the-scenes video of the test kitchen at its headquarters which showed a test chef cooking different limited-time dishes in February 2016. It fits in with the brand’s attempt to beef up its presence among a younger crowd, which included Snapchat geofilters for the first time across more than 1,700 restaurants last month.
“We want everyone to think about Denny’s when they’re hungry, so we want to make sure we’re top-of-mind for them through our social efforts,” Dillon said.
The restaurant chain is only the latest to bring flapjacks to social media: IHOP recently ran a mildly absurd live stream of a plate of pancakes on a table at the beach.
Member Exclusive‘You can’t just cut a little bit’: Why this moment could force agencies to accelerate necessary changes to their business models
To survive, agencies have to change how they do business instead of making cuts here or there to manage for the next quarter.
‘We knew it would impact our business negatively’: How joining the Facebook boycott affected one small advertiser
For small boycotting advertisers like JibJab, staying off the Facebook advertising ecosystem permanently is untenable.
‘Exceeded our marketers readiness’: As e-commerce growth accelerates, Dentsu is adding a new practice to meet the demand
The commerce practice was already in the works but the pandemic and changing consumer behavior due to the pandemic accelerated it.
SponsoredPublishers: Assessing risk and ensuring payments in times of crisis
As the industry navigates the continued impacts of COVID-19, here’s the questions publishers should ask their programmatic partners or ad management providers to protect themselves from clawbacks and lost revenue.
‘Hooked on the Facebook drug’: Media buyers say smaller brands will return to the platform, but bigger brands will continue to boycott
Large consumer brands aren’t happy with Facebook’s response to the boycott so far and will likely wait until fall to reconsider the boycott.
Nobody in elevators, fewer gag lines: How an agency is remaking its ads to fit the coronavirus era
The process has allowed the full-service agency to enlist its post-production arm to help its clients adjust ads rather than press pause on advertising due to the ad content.