For much of its history, Dunkin’ Donuts has been regarded as regional chain, battling the myth that the brand is only a Northeast favorite when in fact it is the world’s largest coffee and donut retailer. Perceptions have started to change in recent years as the company continued its expansion south and west, but with the coffee and breakfast market never more competitive and challenging, Dunkin’ Donuts looked to 2010 – the company’s 60th birthday – as the year to decidedly and definitively establish the company’s national leadership position.

With an eye towards Dunkin’ Donuts’ burgeoning base of passionate and vocal Facebook fans and Twitter followers, the call to action was clear: capitalize on social media to drive consumer engagement and mobilize brand ambassadors.


RF|Binder, Dunkin’ Donuts’ national PR agency of record, and Studiocom, Dunkin’ Donuts’ digital agency, collaborated to help Dunkin’ Donuts “brew” an aggressive and creative social media campaign to bring to life what makes the brand so special and different from a Starbucks, McDonald’s, Tim Hortons or even the local convenience store. Leveraging online resources and networking channels, Dunkin’ Donuts implemented irreverent and fun programming to win the nation’s breakfast wars, establishing the company as a powerful brand with a unique connection with its guests, and one that makes a difference in the daily lives of millions of people around the world.


• Constantly introduce unique new promotions via online and social media channels to distinguish the brand for an unmatched willingness to connect consumers in both quantity and quality of engagement opportunities.
• Demonstrate the unique fun personality of the Dunkin’ Donuts brand through creative programming designed to stand out to bloggers and social media fans and followers.
• Aggressively highlight Dunkin’ Donuts’ key competitive differentiators in a crowded marketplace, with particular emphasis on Dunkin’ Donuts as a brand that understands consumers’ evolving needs in the face of economic challenges.
• Keep coffee in the spotlight; leverage social media to emphasize Dunkin’ Donuts’ coffee excellence and leadership and debunk perceptions that the company is primarily a donut chain and at the same time reinforce the company is indeed the nation’s #1 retailer of regular hot and iced coffee.

RF|Binder and Studiocom audited key bloggers and industry influencers to determine both Dunkin’ Donuts and its competitors’ positioning tactics. We also initiated daily media monitoring to ascertain an ongoing overview and analysis of the brand’s competition. Dunkin’ Donuts’ Consumer Insights Group provided weekly intelligence reports about the Quick Service Restaurant Industry, which were invaluable in devising fresh stories and information to pitch to media.

“Perking” blogger interest: Dunkin’ Donuts offered bloggers and podcasters a greater level of access to its company leaders than in years past, with the aim of creating more third-party content that could be shared via social media by the brand’s fans. For example, was provided an advance look at plans for the national “Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest, and the opportunity to introduce new Facebook promotions. Wall Street was provided exclusive access to create a video of Dunkin’ Donuts’ inaugural internal cricket tournament between leadership and franchisees. CMO John Costello appeared on to provide an inside look at the brand’s 2010 marketing strategy.

Time to make the donuts…again! Dunkin’ Donuts launched the second Create Dunkin’s Next Donut” contest, allowing Americans to create their own original donut for the chance to win $12,000 and have their treat sold in Dunkin’ Donuts locations throughout the country. To encourage an increase in social media activity around the contest, Dunkin’ Donuts created a movie trailer-style video featuring highlights from 2009 to generate interest and excitement before the contest opened for entry. The video was posted to Facebook and YouTube, and driven to from Twitter. When the contest opened, Dunkin’ launched several enhancements, including an improved gallery allowing people to create, name and save an unlimited number of donuts. During the voting phase, sharing tools enabled consumers to post their vote to their Facebook news feed, Twitter or other social networks. Select markets provided a special donut coupon after voting (geo-targeted, as each offer was different) while an SMS alert drove people to vote.

Put fans in the picture: Each week Dunkin’ Donuts selects a “Fan of the Week” from fan photos posted to the brand’s Facebook page. The fan is featured as the Dunkin’ Donuts profile picture for an entire week, giving him or her their “15 minutes of fame” and invaluable social currency. Leveraging the success of this initiative, in 2010 Dunkin’ Donuts unveiled additional programs to put fans in the picture. For example, to celebrate new holiday menu items, fans were encouraged to tweet photos of themselves in their finest holiday sweaters, for the chance to win a $60 Dunkin’ Donuts Card. As Dunkin’ was promoting new pumpkin coffee and baked goods, guests could tweet photos of their best Dunkin’ Donuts-inspired jack-o-lanterns. And, to highlight the popularity of iced coffee in the winter, Facebook fans were encouraged to post pictures of themselves as a “YeDDi,” one who loves to drink iced coffee even on the coldest days.

Breakin’ out the Boogaloo: To drive sales of Coolattas during the key summer beverage season, Dunkin’ Donuts turned to fans for “Keep It Coolatta 2: Flavor Boogaloo.” Dunkin’ allowed guests the chance to play DJ by visiting the brand’s Facebook page and suggesting favorite songs inspired by the flavors of Coolatta and summer. The suggestions were used to create a custom Dunkin’ Donuts music station on Pandora, the internet radio service that delivers personalized stations based on listener music preferences.
Owning National Coffee Day: On National Coffee Day, Dunkin’ Donuts launched the “Ultimate Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee Fan Video Contest” on Facebook, a search for the person most passionate about drinking Dunkin’ Donuts coffee to keep him or herself running every day. To reward the ultimate coffee fan’s passion and enthusiasm, Dunkin’ Donuts brewed up its biggest coffee-related prize ever: 60 months of free Dunkin’ Donuts coffee and a five-day trip for two to tropical Costa Rica, including a visit to one of the region’s premier coffee farms, with a personal tour led by Dunkin’s coffee excellence managers.

Mixing It Up: When Dunkin’ Donuts launched new Coolatta flavor mixes, Twitter followers were given the exclusive opportunity to develop nicknames for the new beverages, with the best names earning $60 Dunkin’ Donuts cards. Each month random followers who shared interesting stories or photos received surprise presents such as T-shirts and mugs.

MEASUREMENT (A “sampling” of results)

• In the November 11, 2010 issue, Forbes wrote, “Starbucks has fallen behind Dunkin’ Donuts…in the online buzz wars, that is.”
• The brand increased its number of Twitter followers by 70%, from 35,000 to more than 60,000.
• The brand surpassed 2.9 million Facebook fans, an increase of more than 50% in 2010.
• In 2010, Dunkin’ Donuts earned more than 600 unique blog posts.
• In 2010, more than 71,000 people joined Dunkin’ Donuts’ “DD Perks” loyalty program through Facebook, making Facebook the #1 lead generator for the program after
• The Create Dunkin’s Next Donut Contest drove the two biggest traffic days on Dunkin’ Donuts earned year-over-year increases in unique visitors who entered and voted, as well as a 100% increase in the number of Dunkin’ Perks e-mail opt-ins. The contest also succeeded in driving people to stores – of 39,000 geo-targeted donut offer views, 34% printed the coupon.
• The holiday sweater promotion on Twitter was featured in a Wall Street Journal story.
• Dunkin’ Donuts’ social media efforts were featured in a Fast Company story on “Five Steps for Consumer Brands to Earn Social Currency.”
• An exclusive feature story with focused on Dunkin’ Donuts’ commitment to innovation and unique marketing initiatives to build brand affinity. The story link was tweeted or posted to Facebook more than 900 times in the first 24 hours.
• Dunkin’ Donuts was ranked number 7 in QSR Magazine’s annual “top 50 co’s shaping our industry.”