Celebrities Out, Community In For Dunkin’s New Heartwarmer


Dunkin' Franchisees - Wellsboro, PA


Dunkin’ entertained viewers at the Super Bowl with an all-star ad starring J-Lo, Ben Affleck, and Affleck’s fake pop group the Dun-Kings. Its new ad couldn’t be more of a tonal shift. We move from megastars to ordinary folk, and from goofing around to the serious business of owning a family-run Dunkin’ outlet.

Behind the scenes, Ben Affleck’s still involved – his creative agency, Artists Equity, made the ad for Dunkin’. But the ad takes itself completely seriously, and the only star power comes from the natural charm of the women narrating the Dunkin’ ad. We’re hearing from a mother who took over the Dunkin’ shop in small-town Pennsylvania from her own mom, and the daughter she’s handing it on to.

Unusually for a consumer ad, the commercial has a similar vibe to some of the more successful B2B ads we’ve seen, where voiceovers telling the story of a business are one of the most effective ways to humanise a corporation or promote a product that’s helping small companies. This would be a solid ad for potential Dunkin’ franchisees.

But it goes well beyond that, turning the spotlight onto not the job itself, but the other people who make it worthwhile – the customers. More than most companies, Dunkin’s identity is bound up in the way it serves its communities – getting the day started for people in all walks of life and giving adults and kids alike the chance to break their day up with a treat. So we see the mother-and-daughter team who run this Dunkin’ greeting their familiar customers, helping kids have a great birthday giving seniors a lift. “America Runs On Dunkin’” is the brand’s current slogan, and an ad like this is an opportunity to truly show that.

The ad is full of tender, human moments which attract the valuable “broad-beam” attention of the right brain, and it’s structured like a mini “day in the life” documentary to give the coffee shop a strong sense of place. It scored a 4.5-Star Rating, outsourcing the Super Bowl commercial and rating well over the 2.7-Star average for its category. The ad also got strong Brand Fluency (recognition) and exceptional Spike Rating for short-term sales – no surprise as it’s both strongly branded and mouth-watering!

It’s an effective change of pace for the Dunkin’ brand, and a reminder that while buzzy guest stars might drive conversation, for heartfelt and effective emotional advertising sometimes you can get better results just by letting ordinary people tell their own simple stories.

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