Friday, June 2, 2017

How Dunkin Donuts is becoming a me too "Bro/Pro Brand"

As a creative director I often peruse ad agency sites. It's most revealing. And I happened upon the campaign for Dunkin Donuts from Hill Holliday.

Hill Holliday is the long time agency of record for Dunkin Donuts. I am a Yank living in Canada where the franchise doesn't exist or even have a chance up against Tim Horton's.

But Dunkin Donuts has obviously taken a page or two or twenty from Tim Horton's playbook here.

A little background to the Tim Horton franchise before Dunkin Donuts:

Tim Horton was a hockey player way back when. All males who have any interest in hockey know this in Canada where hockey is the National game practically. Tim Horton started his small chain of donut/coffee shops after he retired from hockey. It didn't do well. It was on the verge of bankruptcy when the American food franchise consortium for Wendy's bought the ownership for very little.
Here's an early TV ad for Tim Horton's after the Wendy's group first owned and reconfigured it.

Wendy's group not only resusitated the brand but made it into the most desirable franchise in Canada.
Then it went back into Canadian ownership, then back to the Wendy's group and now has been
purchased by Burger King and their food group.

The Tim Horton's  brand and franchise is a whopper now. It has solidly carved out the whole middle class,  hard working, National Canadian hockey loving position from the start and has built it's brand around that proposition from its very beginnings.

Tim Horton's  agency of record is Horizon Media. And the BurgerKing/Tim Horton's group is slowly penetrating the U.S. market with the Tim Horton's franchises and brand position.

Here's a sample from Tim Horton's current campaign.

Now we go to Dunkin Donuts. Beginning with Fred the baker and his: "Time to make the donuts"
position that ran for over 15 years. People loved it. The emphasis was always on the donuts. And this was the TV ad that was on air about the time the early Tim's ad from the Wendy's group was playing that you see here.

But Hill Holliday has recently changed the direction and focus of the brand. They decided to go for the coffee and use hockey as their way in. Identical to Tim Horton's. Coffee is a big money maker. The margins have to be a lot bigger than donuts. So Dunkin and I am sure along with Hill Holliday have recently cut a deal with the NHL as the "official" coffee.
To go along with that,  they are now producing macho hockey ads to seal the deal. It's a smart move on Dunkin Donuts part because seeing that Tim Horton's is making inroads into the US market, they want to be able to make the hockey connection appear to be their positioning first.

Here's Dunkin Donuts hockey commercial last year...

 and here's the newest Dunkin Donuts commercial to date:

And while Hill Holliday hopes NO ONE in the US will ever see or even
taste a cup of Tim Horton's coffee, that may have been their rationale to try to copy and usurp the position of Tim Horton's brand but...

Tim Horton's has developed and owned the hockey position forever, no matter how many agencies they work with. And they have the ad history to prove it.

Despite Tim Horton's having as many agencies as Dunkin Donuts has had brand positions.

But as the old saying goes: Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

And while Tim Horton's is almost an unknown brand in most of the US, it's sure to be an interesting competition once these two have to face off. Plus Tim Horton's has a powerful food group behind them.

So we will see where this will lead to in the US market.

I think Dunkin Donuts may be skating on thin ice here.

For me, this is a much more interesting game to watch than hockey. So let me just get my Tim's double double and get ready for the games to begin.....