Thursday, January 06, 2011

“D’oh!” Dunkin’ Donuts Launches a 2011 Campaign, Hold the Homer.

There aren’t many famous quotes about doughnuts but we’ll always have Hollywood. Perhaps you don’t recall Chevy Chase remarking, “A doughnut without a hole is a danish!”*

Then there’s – oh yes – Homer Simpson. The iconic donut consumer. The most influential everyday Joe in America, if not the world. So I’m wondering about the news that Dunkin’ Donuts released early this week. The company announced it’s launching a new multimillion-dollar marketing campaign for its coffee business because the competition for coffee-drinkers is heating up.

I mention Mr Simpson because the new retail campaign is being called “everyday Joes,” at least at this point. However…it appears that these particular Joes will be drinking the fairly well known Dunkin’ Donuts coffee rather than chow-hounding the chain’s crullers. Kim Conte, writing on The Stir blog, has already noted:

The commercials, which star ordinary people (firefighters, cops, construction workers, etc.) who are fans of the brand and auditioned for the spots last year, are accessible and relatable.

Dunkin’ Brands’ John Costello, chief global customer and marketing officer, is quoted as saying: “The love that our customers have for Dunkin’ Donuts is truly unique, and this campaign ties into that passion in a very personal way.”

I buy Mr Costello’s “personal” and – given the strong product identification in the TV spot I found online – there’ll be some gain in share-of-coffee-slurpers. The new commercials have been created for the campaign by Hill Holiday in Boston. I haven’t seen them running here, possibly because the Dunkin’ Donuts stores have all but disappeared from my neck of the woods. There’s a store northwest of me, 7510 Highway 6 N, which I’ll visit to see if there’s evidence of the new “I’m Drinking Dunkin’” campaign theme.

But I wonder: Can you truly separate the coffee from the donuts? It’s like calling the old Kentucky Fried Chicken by a new name, KFC, and hoping that everyday Joes won’t notice that you’re still selling the wonderfully sinful chicken. Or donuts, or whatever else is supposed to be bad for the American people this week.

Dunkin’ Donuts will probably do just fine. But here proximity tops brand: one of Dunkin’s few Houston stores is still 11 miles away. I’ll stick with Starbucks, thanks.

*That was in “Caddyshack,” look it up. Even with the revised logo. Actual illustration of “Homer Simpson” created by Matt Groening. Copyright ©2006 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All rights reserved.


Rachel said...

Sorry, Dunkin -- you guys competing on coffee is like McDonald's competing on ice cream. Have you checked your brand name lately?

The problem with trying to compete with Starbucks is that Starbucks isn't a coffee -- it's a destination. It's where friends connect, where business deals take place, where solopreneurs set up shop to stave off cabin fever. It's a world-groove-playing-in-the-background ambiance that neither McDonald's nor Dunkin nor anyone else comes close to offering.

So come on, Dunkin, say it with me ... "I am a doughnut shop ... I am a doughnut shop ... I am a damn fine doughnut shop ..."

Oh, and bring the "time to make the doughnuts" guy back to your ads. He was fun.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Rachel, "'s a destination..." is right on the money. There's not much appeal at the Copperfield (northwest) Dunkin' Donuts store. A lovely counterwoman, it's true; but little else that comes close to matching a Starbucks experience. thanks, and stay tuned...

Kay Krenek said...

It makes me think of the "time to make the doughnuts" guy! We actually had DD here in Houston when I was growing up. We used to go to one at the corner of Telephone Rd. and Bellfort, not far from Hobby Airport. I think Shipley's chased them out of town and IMHO they will have a hard time getting a loyal following here except from Yankees who grew up with DD.

S. Reeves said...

We have a fancy new Shipley's at Dairy Ashford near the entrance to the Terry Hershey Park hike n bike...
Freestanding building with rock facade and a bit more sophisticated look. I have not been in there yet, so I don't know how "destination-like" it is, as I really try to steer clear of donuts. They are just too yummy.

I was wishing Starbucks had found the location (near Terry Hershey) so I could hang out there after taking the dogs on hikes.

Note: every time I see Homer with a donut - I want a donut too.

Jack Goldenberg said...

I just think you write a great blog. It's funny, insightful and always interesting.

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks, Jack - you da best! I always hope that Signalwriter causes NO massive disruption in your life. Now - back to the Rear End Awards...

Rachel Baron said...

Depending on the neighborhood you'rw in, around here, DD's can be found more than Starbucks & McDonald's. And many times it's better, more affordable coffee. (Reported from the east coast.)

Michael said...

You're right on point, Rachel. Dunkin seems to have a stronghold in the northeast.

From the vantage point of this area (Houston, S Texas), it's impossible to appreciate how entrenched Dunkin is up there. Besides kind of being the workingman's coffee stop, it even seems to fill the role of the rural DQ in these here parts, as a gathering place for kids at night.

And you also can't line the 2 companies up exactly head-to-head, since they're targeting different (though certainly overlapping) markets.

And now I have to cop to a couple of less-analytical biases that might have skewed the above:
• Doughnuts? After the bagel conquest, then the death-to-carbohydrates days, who's still eating doughnuts?
• I love Dunkin coffee.

Suzanne Jarvis said...

Was married to a DD Franchise owner for 18 years. They make majority of their money off of coffee, have incredibly LOYAL DD coffee drinkers (secret is in the heat of the water to make the coffee), DD had plans to open 200 stores in Texas. Not sure what happened…and DD coffee drinkers don’t go for gourmet coffee like Sbucks. DD is one business not impacted by recession.

Gone is Fred the Baker…Time to Make the Donuts – my era of DD experience. Will leave all the branding stuff up to your expertise, Richard. Personally, I loved the crullers – the donuts without the holes) which have been discontinued…Enjoy Sbucks…and when you are in Boston go to a DD for an affordable great cup of Joe!

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Thanks to everyone who commented on behalf of the DD position - Rachel B, Michael, Suzanne. I'm grateful for the additional perspectives. I also think it makes a mockery of the pundits who say capitalism promotes brand commoditization.

Here and now at least, there's no all-or-nothing brand interest. (Except, perhaps, iPhone.) Best for Saturday!

Richard Laurence Baron said...

Now (7/26/2011) Dunkin' Donuts has announced an IPO:

Good luck!