Link: Click Here (It is the last spot)
Target: Working People
This spot for Dunkin Donuts starts with a father pushing his son off on a bike as he sips an iced coffee. The soundtrack is a male choral anthem, “Yes! Doin’ things is what I like to do. Yes! Doing things is what I like to do. Yes! I’m slightly more productive now than previous because I’m slightly more efficient than I previously was. Doing things is what I like to do.” In a compressed version of small-town America, we see people going about their everyday lives with the help of Dunkin products. A mailman, housepainter, movers, guy waiting at the bus-stop, two guys playing chess, two office guys carrying files, a clown entertaining children, a tow-truck driver, a roofer, cops in a police cruiser, a sidewalk entertainer, a little league baseball team, some power walkers and a construction worker in a manhole. The voiceover concludes, “Dunkin Donuts – it’s how everyday people get things done every day. America Runs on Dunkin.” The last is the tagline and is displayed onscreen with the logo.
There is a cheerful energy to this spot and a kind of ‘morning in America vibe.’ There is also a lot of branding as virtually every working person in the spot is carrying a Dunkin Donuts product. It is unusual and not likely to be copied by competition.
As upbeat and innocuous as this spot seems, it is a disaster on several levels. The first is the most obvious – brand positioning. The tagline “American Runs on Dunkin,” combined with the product placement (which favors coffee drinks 4-1 over donuts) and faux-Norman Rockwell Americana imagery suggest that Dunkin is trying to position themselves as the ‘get going’ brand for working class America. This is fundamentally a coffee positioning. And Dunkin may have good reason to want to push the coffee. This advertising blog suspects that coffee might be more of a destination item for Dunkin than donuts and undoubtedly contributes more to overall profitability, as the new private equity owners of Dunkin must have noticed when giving direction to Hill Holiday, the agency on Dunkin. Unfortunately, this is a losing position for Dunkin, which should be capitalizing on the misfortunes of Krispy Kreme instead of running away from Donuts. Whether most people buy donuts or not, the chain is called ‘Dunkin Donuts’ and can only really be an expert in donuts, not coffee. Putting too much focus on coffee in advertising risks driving consumers upmarket to Starbucks. We agree that Dunkin must stand for something, but this isn’t it.
A more subtle but not less serious flaw with this advertising is the casting of the spot. Dunkin has a largely male target audience. Therefore, those brilliant, highly-paid private equity people have made the obvious suggestion to the agency that most of the people in the spot ought to be men and not just any men but working men, just like the target audience. The agency has executed against this mandate so well that they have created a world where every single working person is a man (there are only a handful of women in the spot and none of them are working). In fact, some of the child care roles are reserved for men here, too, as the spot starts with the father sending a child off to school on her bike.
We’re not sure what school of advertising the new owners of Dunkin Donuts subscribe to but they obviously think very differently than the beer industry about what appeals to working class men. And in this we find the final irony. In its over-earnest attempt to engineer a pure, cheerful salute to smalltown America and working class male values, Dunkin Donuts has produced a bit of fluff that looks like nothing so much as a Village People video – a gay anthem song. The effect is certainly unintentional, but no less striking.
Branding Bottom Line:
Dunkin Donuts goes for Miller country and winds up in the Y-M-C-A.