Friday, December 12, 2008

Review: Dunkin Takes on Starbucks

Thanks in part to the insistence of a friend, I realized that the ol' blog needs an infusion of life. So I thought back to my newspaper days. What would help me publish more often? Regular features!

On Tuesday, I wrote about the new feature 5 Questions. The name is uninspired, but I have found that hastily coined names quickly draw my ire. I'm happy with the first post, and work on the future posts is going well thanks to suggestions by initial interviewee Bob Schaller. Believe it or not, I have some pretty cool interviews lined up, so stay tuned for that.

Another regular feature will involve current advertising reviews. I'd like to promise that it will be weekly, but I am perhaps not that brave.

This new feature also needs a name, so please feel free to suggest one. Every good "Ad Review" name that I can think of is taken.

Dunkin' Beats Starbucks

As one who came of age in the 1980s, I grew up with taste tests. It seems that Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi was omnipresent on television.

Since then, we have seen far fewer taste test ads. Perhaps this is because the gimmick was overdone and perhaps this was due to the fear that is omnipresent in comparative advertising: you're showing your competitor, too. Low attention viewers might see only the Starbucks logo.

Yet Starbucks is vulnerable, and the competitors are attacking. According to the Nov. 10, 2008, Advertising Age (subscription required), fourth quarter profits were down 97%, and same store sales were down 8%.

This comes in a year where the coffee giant already has delved into traditional advertising, closed for retraining, shuttered stores, and given away free coffee for voting.

McDonald's has been on the attack, putting up billboards outside Starbucks' corporate headquarters that read, "Four bucks is dumb" (New York Daily News). Another billboard claims, "Large is the new grande" (Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

Starbucks won't bite, according to the Seattle Post-Intelligencer.

"We're not going to get into that conversation. We're not going to get sucked into the, 'My coffee is better than your coffee,' price point type of coffee conversation," Starbucks Chief Marketing Officer Terry Davenport said. "We're going to play at a much higher level."

Dunkin' Donuts also is trying to capitalize on the vulnerability with their taste test ad.

"Try the coffee that beat Starbucks," the ad claims.

The ad employs a straightforward, direct appeal: Dunkin' Donuts' coffee tastes better. Whereas McDonald's is attacking on snobbery and price point, Dunkin' is going after taste.

This campaign likely will have some success in driving people to the store, but the claim must substantiated. In my case, I "bit" on an earlier ad. A regular Starbucks drinker at home and at work, I bought a pound (or what passes for a pound these days) of Dunkin' coffee.

It wasn't bad, but it didn't match my preferred Starbucks French Roast.

That's both the benefit and curse of a straightforward benefit ad: if consumers agree, you're likely to profit; however, there's nowhere to hide if your promise falls short.

See for yourself at the new Web site:

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have to admit, I like Dunkin' Donuts better as far as the experience. Coffee isn't bad either, but if it's a coffee-and-go trip, I def hit Starbs first...

9:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

How about:

10:40 PM  
Blogger Samuel D. Bradley said...

AdCog is a good start.

Must keep the ideas flowing.

10:42 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cognition Contractor?

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


11:41 AM  

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