Dennys Free Grand Slam Superbowl Ad Fail

By Michael Dorausch, D.C.

Nearly a billion people tuned in to watch Superbowl 43 (XLIII) broadcast live today on NBC television. The Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl by a score of 27 to 23 over the Arizona Cardinals but who won and who lost in the world of Super Bowl advertising? With Super Bowl commercials costing companies between $2.4 million and $3 million per 30-second commercial advertising spot, it’s almost unthinkable to me that a company would not plan ahead with a Web strategy to handle the ginormous flood of visitors to their website receives seconds after the commercial has been aired. Superbowl 44 (XLIV) advertisers take note… millions of us watch the Super Bowl while simultaneously being on our computers, don’t miss the opportunity you’ve invested so much money on, with a site that cannot handle a massive surge in online traffic.

Denny’s and their website was the first fail when it came to Internet strategy for Super Bowl commercial marketing. The advertisement itself wasn’t bad, in fact I thought that Denny’s offer of a Free Grand Slam breakfast to everyone in America was pretty bold. Dear Denny’s, you probably already discovered that a spectacular offer like a free breakfast for 300 million people will result in millions attempting to visit your website. Here’s what I saw in my Firefox browser after waiting several minutes for the site to load…

connection interrupted - server fail while trying to visit website

I was expecting to see images of fluffy pancakes, sunnyside up fried eggs, and some yummy looking slices of bacon. Instead I got a timeout error. I checked it several times on both Firefox browsers and Internet Explorer browsers but no luck. Unfortunately, millions of Americans were performing the same search, as a screenshot from Google Hot Trends shows that Denny’s related searches were volcanic! For you advertising executives that may be reading this, that means that on Google, for a period of time after the Denny’s Super Bowl commercial ran, it was the #1 search. Here is what that looked like…

Dennys Free grand Slam Searches on Google

Untold millions searching for Dennys Free Grand Slam, Denny’s, Denny’s locations, Denny’s restaurant, Denny’s grand slam. I give you this, we remembered the name of the breakfast you were offering to give away, let’s hope for your sake you maintain that same share of mind on Americans Monday morning.

You are not alone Denny’s, another Super Bowl 43 advertiser made the same mistake. Vizio showed a Super Bowl commercial that asked us to look at the center of our TVs, right where the TV set logo is. Brilliant job by Vizio marketers because in my case the arrow pointed directly to the brand of my plasma screen TV, it’s a 42 inch Pioneer, and I was just that Costco today considering a new purchase of a different model. Well Vizio, I went to check out your site seconds after your commercial was through and it was already down. Crushed under the weight of consumers wanting to check out your latest flat-panel HDTV models and multimedia displays.

Using my Firefox browser I saw the same connection interrupted page that appeared when trying to visit When switching to Internet Explorer browser this was what appeared… web site down seconds after Superbowl XLIII commercial

The problem for Vizio was that they asked us directly in the commercial to visit the website and check at a new fiftysomething inch high-definition television. I don’t know how many people attempted to visit the website seconds and moments after it aired, but I think that preparing for such an onslaught of traffic would be a good idea for any company planning to advertise in Superbowl 2010.

Oh, who won in the world of Super Bowl advertising? My vote goes to, within a commercial that also directly invited consumers to come check out the site. Their site did appear to sputter a bit after the commercial, but it’s been pretty solid since. Better yet, you can check out all the Super Bowl XLIII commercials on @ 8:12 pm | Article ID: 1233547996