Denny’s on Monday took over a Hollywood tourist spot, Disney’s El Capitan Theater, to promote its tie-up with “Solo: A Star Wars Story.” While the chain usually touts its food in its marketing, this time the effort puts the focus on its promotional partner, an expected blockbuster coming out on Memorial Day weekend, and No Kid Hungry, an anti-hunger nonprofit that Denny’s supports.

“We had the opportunity to work toward a greater good, the ‘light side,’ if you will,” says John Dillon, senior VP and chief marketing officer at Denny’s, referring to the “Star Wars” movies’ counterpoint to the dark side of the Force. “That’s what we believe sets this apart from a typical brand and movie studio partnership–using it to yes, drive sales results for both sides–but even more importantly use it as a platform to do good for society.”

At the event in Hollywood, Dillon showed an audience the key ad in the “Solo” co-promotion, a big production spot called “Hand of Sabacc” about the card game in which Han Solo wins the Millennium Falcon from Lando Calrissian. Here, however, the characters are played by two boys. The ad eventually cuts back to reality, where the same kids are negotiating trades of limited edition Topps Solo trading cards, which are being sold at Denny’s and online for $3 a pack, with proceeds going to No Kid Hungry.

“Consumers want brands to give back more than before, so being able to do that in a fun way like this, we’re very excited,” Dillon adds.

Denny’s has helped No Kid Hungry raise $6.3 million since it began working with the group in 2011, though No Kid Hungry Senior VP Diana Hovey says the “Solo” campaign is the highest-profile project with Denny’s so far.

The tie-up with No Kid Hungry dovetails with Denny’s own brand platform of feeding people on multiple levels–not just physically, but also emotionally, he says. “We’ve been talking with Disney for a few years about working together, and when we came in with the idea of No Kid Hungry, that’s when it really clicked,” Dillon says. “It became very much a no-brainer for all of us when we came in with the idea of ‘giving back to every kid in the galaxy.'”

Denny’s has seen growth in the U.S. for seven consecutive years, with its U.S. same-store sales rising 1.1 percent in 2017. While its same-store sales have increased in 17 of the last 19 quarters, the growth rate remains well off the increases of more than 7 percent it saw in early 2015.

Read more at Ad Age:  http://creativity-online.com/work/dennyslucasfilm-hand-of-sabacc/54241