FRED RETIRES FROM AD ROLE AFTER 15 YEARS OF DUNKIN': DEPARTURE REFLECTS DOUGHNUT CHAIN'S GROWING MENU

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For Fred the Baker, it's time to stop making the doughnuts.

Dunkin' Donuts will retire its spokesman-who muttered "Time to make the doughnuts" through 15 years of commercials -from the chain's advertising.

Dunkin's expansion into new food categories called for something more than a doughnut man to star in its advertising, the marketer said.

Created by Ron Berger and Barry Vetere while at Ally & Gargano, Fred was appealing because "everyone who works for a living can relate" to him, said Mr. Berger, now partner and creative director at Dunkin' agency Messner Vetere Berger McNamee Schmetterer/Euro RSCG, New York.

DUNKIN' DONUTS 'EVOLVING'

However, "Dunkin' Donuts as a brand is evolving from a product point of view," Mr. Berger said. "Fred symbolized the doughnut man. The brand has evolved into flavored coffees and bagels and danish. We're looking for more interesting ways to represent what the brand is today as we move forward."

Edward Binder, Dunkin' Donuts VP-marketing, said expansion has been mandated by increased competition from bagel and coffee chains.

"Business was increasing at a decreasing rate," Mr. Binder said. "Over the last couple of years, we've made a huge transition in the base brand positioning of our business from 'America's favorite doughnut shop' to 'America's neighborhood coffee shop.' "

EASING OUT FRED

Dunkin' started easing out Fred, who is portrayed by actor Michael Vale, earlier this month with a $1.5 million teaser campaign from Messner Vetere, in which Bob Dole, Mary Lou Retton, Larry Bird and Sugar Ray Leonard gave him advice on about retirement.

Dunkin' is now spending $630,000 on two 30-second transition spots. One began running Sept. 17, with Fred announcing his retirement to a swarm of reporters. The other spot, called "Tribute," breaks tonight and features the personalities from the teasers congratulating Fred on his retirement.

The first advertising without Fred, due out next month, "will retain the message of great quality products, but we're going to turn the camera around and tell stories about how the brand fits into our customer's lives," Mr. Binder said.

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