Dunkin’s Blue Collar Messaging

I’m not loyal to too many brands. I’m actually one of those consumers that a company hates because it is always trying to convince me that their brand is best. Before serious purchases, like a computer or a smart phone, I do my homework and usually find the best quality item that also fits my needs. For trivial items, I often buy the product that is most inexpensive, a habit that is popular among many consumers, especially in the grocery category. However, as I read over the assignment, there were a few examples that came to mind of brands that have my loyalty. Dunkin Donuts is one of those brands.

I think my relationship with Dunkin was originally an emotional bond. As a child, my family didn’t stop at fast food restaurants often. But if it was summertime and we were adventuring on a day trip to the beach, an amusement park, or a New York Yankee game, then we ALWAYS stopped at Dunkin in the morning for Munchins and chocolate milk! Over the years, Dunkin has never let me down. The bright tones, the bubble letters, and the colors in their logo and advertisements (orange, pink and brown) give one the impression that the brand is fun, light and fresh. As I began drinking coffee as an adult, it is my favorite tasting of the bunch, even compared to top contenders like Starbucks or Seattle’s Best. I should also point out that their price is key to me – a few bucks can go a long way in the morning. Belch and Belch (2012) explain that the marketing mix is made up the four P’s: product, price, place and promotion (p. 8). In Dunkin’s case, each of these elements match my needs: I love their products, the price fits my finances, locations are widespread in the Northeast where I live, and their daily specials are appealing, especially the two donuts and a medium size coffee.

Ever since its inception four years ago, I’ve really enjoyed their “America Runs on Dunkin’” IMC campaign. I like how they frame the messaging in that your morning is top-see turvey without making a stop at their restaurant. “With its “America Runs on Dunkin'” advertising campaign, Dunkin’ Donuts is selling the idea that coffee is fuel, and that’s markedly different from what Starbucks is selling – drinking coffee as a lifestyle” (Hoy, 2006). This is what I want – this is me. I like that its positioning is for your average Joe (yes, pun intended) and not specifically for that rich businessman in New York City grabbing an afternoon coffee with his client.

Additionally, Hoy points out that it originally competed with other baked goods companies like Krispy Kreme. However, as it continued to focus on coffee, it adopted new competitors like Starbucks (2006). This is interesting because geography is still a challenge for Dunkin. Some of my Twitter followers from the West Coast may have heard me groan about my cravings for Dunkin but might not have even recognized the name since Dunkin is heavily focused in the Northeast. But that challenge is an opportunity that they are looking to possibly take advantage of in the near future. “Though Dunkin’ doesn’t have the same level of brand recognition as McDonald’s or Starbucks Corp., the company also hasn’t penetrated the western U.S. or other parts of the country as deeply, giving it more opportunity to expand. And it’s there that it hopes to give both rivals a run for their money among caffeine cravers (Jargon & Cowan, 2011, p. 1). I’ll be continuing to push their name and products to my online friends so, if they do expand, new customers are sure to fall in love!

* Originally submitted as a discussion post in IMC 610 at WVU 


Belch, George E. & Belch, Michael A. (2012). Advertising and promotion: An integrated marketing communications perspective (9th ed.). New York City, NY: McGraw-Hill/Irwin.

Hoy, Peter (2006, October 25). Dunkin’  Donuts – Reinventing America’s cup of coffee. Fast Company. Retrieved August 29, 2011 from http://www.fastcompany.com/articles/2006/10/dunkin.html

Jargon, Julie; & Cowan, Lynn (2011, July 27). Corporate news: Dunkin’ to fuel coffee wars – following IPO, doughnut chain’s expansion plans mean going up against McDonald’s, Starbucks. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved August 29, 2011 through ProQuest Research Database from http://search.proquest.com.www.libproxy.wvu.edu/docview/879091507/1317D41680B19BE87EB/12?accountid=2837