DEUTSCH, HILL HOLLIDAY COMPETE FOR DUNKIN' DONUTS

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Dunkin' Donuts is severing ties with Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York, saying it wants advertising to better reflect its positioning as more than a doughnut shop.

The 3,700-unit chain, a division of London-based Allied Domecq, is holding a closed review and is expected to select a new agency shortly for its $40 million account.

ONLY TWO CONTENDERS

The only contenders are Deutsch, New York, and Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston.

Edward Binder, VP-marketing for Dunkin' Donuts, said the review is being handled internally, and no other shops will be considered. Messner referred calls to the client, as did Deutsch. Hill Holliday could not be reached for comment.

Deutsch in November won the $20 million account of sister chain Baskin-Robbins.

The parting with Messner comes six months after the highly publicized retirement of ad spokesman Fred the Baker. The character, who personified Dunkin' Donuts for years, was created by Messner Vetere Creative Director Ron Berger when he and the account were at now-defunct Ally & Gargano. Messner had the account since 1995.

VALUED CONTRIBUTIONS

"The important thing to say is that we truly value the very important contributions they made for us," Mr. Binder said of the agency.

That said, "We feel [a change] is in the best interests of Dunkin' Donuts," he added.

Dunkin' Donuts' U.S. same-store sales grew 10% for its fiscal year ended Aug. 31.

NO MORE FRED

Part of Allied Domecq's growth strategy for its brands is to pair them under one roof, hoping to expand store traffic from morning to evening.

The company also owns Togo's, a submarine sandwich concept.

Mr. Binder said the company is comfortable with its decision to retire Fred the Baker.

"We continue to work on getting the message right with `Something fresh is always brewin' here,' " he said, referring to the current tagline.

Separately, Dunkin' Donuts is rolling out a new line of bagel sticks as part of efforts to broaden product offerings.

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