Denny’s CMO — a Baylor grad — named among 2017’s most innovative CMOs
When it comes to brands on social media, few can match the tone set by Denny’s. The diner chain’s approach — somewhere between snarky and silly, without going too far either direction — has won the acclaim of hundreds of thousands of followers on such platforms as Twitter, Instagram and Tumblr.
The man overseeing all that? Denny’s Chief Marketing Officer John Dillon — Baylor Class of 1993.
Largely because of his company’s social media success, Dillon was named among the 50 most innovative CMOs in the world for 2017 by Business Insider. Their story noted that, “At a time when a brand can easily appear to be tone-deaf or, worse, thirsty, Denny’s has managed to remain culturally relevant with a finger on the pulse of pop culture.”
As CMO, Dillon plays a lead role in helping shape the brand’s direction — including the tone Denny’s takes on social media. His preparation for such a position began here at Baylor, with a business degree in marketing, computer information systems, and business analysis. As a student, Dillon learned leadership skills by participating in Baylor Chamber and the Baylor Ambassadors program.
After graduating in 1993, Dillon spent a decade in marketing with Pizza Hut and two years as VP for marketing with the NBA’s Houston Rockets before joining Denny’s in 2007 and working his way up to chief marketing officer. When he was hired at Denny’s, the brand was 55 years old and in decline; Dillon gave the brand a new approach, helping shift its perception from a glorified truck stop to a young and fun restaurant dubbed “America’s Diner.”
In 2013, Dillon was named an Ad Age Media Maven for his work in getting millennials interested in the Denny’s brand. He noted then that introducing a sense of humor to the brand’s voice was key in “aging down the brand.” With a now-famous social media presence, Dillon explains that the brand’s voice aims to mimic the kind of informal conversations you might hear in a diner booth at the restaurant. “If we can be relevant and even significant in the lives of guests and potential guests,” he says, “then when they’re hungry, they’re going to think of Denny’s.”
Sic ’em, John!