Denny's new Grand Slam mascot is drawing a lot of attention on social media, much of it from critics who say it is, um, distasteful.
The chain has chosen a sausage link as the face of its popular breakfast combinations.
Social media is blazing with comments about how the chunky brown character looks like something else. But Denny's stand by him.
"We do not have any plans to change how Sausage looks because…well, he looks exactly how a breakfast sausage should look," Denny's chief marketing officer John Dillon said in an email. "And of course, we’d hate to give Sausage a complex because we -- and his Grand Slams family -- love him just the way he is!"
He's shown up before: The character was part of a "Grand Slams" Web series in 2014 along with an anthropomorphized egg, pancake and slice of bacon, according to the Spartanburg, S.C.-based full-service family restaurant chain with more than 1.700 restaurants,
"Sausage has been looking for an opportunity to out-shadow his breakfast counterparts for a while, so it was only a matter of time before he tried to jump into the spotlight. While this unflattering comparison was never in his plan, he won’t let it stop him from enjoying his 15 minutes of fame," Dillon said.
If Denny's wanted to make a splash, it did. The bathroom humor on Twitter abounded:
This really is Denny's new mascot? Really? If this was there #1, what was there #2? pic.twitter.com/i6KYJGPZre— VBTheWise (@VBTheWise) September 13, 2017
Denny's does often gives me "the slams"— maphew🌹 (@grown_ass_manx) September 9, 2017
Others were more subtle about it.
@DennysDiner what if you had a dinosaur for a mascot— The Sultan of Salt (@breathelovesit) September 9, 2017
But not everyone thinks the mascot is bad.
Every marketing campaign runs the risk of upsetting some people, plus it’s succeeding at creating buzz about the restaurant chain without damaging the brand, says New York-based brand consultant Allen Adamson.
“I’m sure a designer can tweak it 10% away from a negative connotation,” he said. “I don’t think they should flush it yet. The reason they should stick with it a little longer and ride out the Twitter storm is its breakfast item… People are not going to not order Denny’s because they think they’re serving side dishes they don’t want to eat.”
Denny's stock closed up 1.2% to $11.89, up 14 cents.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Zlati Meyer on Twitter: @ZlatiMeyer