Dunkin's CMO opens up about changing the brand's name
One might expect Dunkin’ Chief Marketing Officer Tony Weisman to start each day with a cup of the chain’s coffee. Instead, he perks up with sales data.
Weisman reviews the prior day’s comparable-store sales data each morning at 5:30, generally before he has his coffee. “And then it affects what kind of coffee I have and how much I savor it,” Weisman told Ad Age at the Association of National Advertisers’ Masters of Marketing conference last week.
With items such as updated espresso-based drinks, a veggie egg white spinach omelet and turkey sausage Power Breakfast Sandwich for those looking for healthier fare (“we’re not offering kale,” Weisman said), and a sandwich featuring Beyond Meat’s plant-based sausage—exclusively in Manhattan for now—the sales data lately has been keeping Weisman pretty happy. U.S. comparable sales rose 2.4 percent in the first quarter and 1.7 percent in the second quarter, with increases in the average spent per transaction but declines in traffic. Comparable sales increased 0.6 percent in 2018.
Weisman said he also keeps an eye on metrics such as net promoter scores and consumer awareness of the brand’s marketing.
Weisman, who joined Dunkin’ in September 2017, has overseen big changes for the brand, including dropping “Donuts” from its moniker.
“You don’t get the chance to change the name of a 70-year-old brand very often,” Weisman said.
The change was meant to signal the emphasis the brand has been putting on beverages as well as a lighter, cleaner, more design-driven approach to advertising. Dunkin’ has also tried to rely less on promotionally-driven marketing, though it does have value-based deals such as sandwiches pairs at $2, $4 and $5 called Dunkin’ Go2s.
Weisman, who had years of experience on the agency side before joining Dunkin’, says people making the switch to the marketer side need to pay attention to how marketing connects to other parts of the business. “I would say the biggest thing is to really understand the intersection, in a business like ours, between marketing and operations,” said Weisman.
At Dunkin’, that means keeping track of everything from the marketing and merchandising approaches to how crew members will need to make new products.
Weisman knows the brand has, as he called them in his ANA presentation, “rabid fans”: those who dress up like Dunkin’ staffers and products for Halloween, have tattoos of the logo, or serve munchkins at occasions such as weddings.
Dunkin’ selected Omnicom Group’s BBDO as its creative agency of record in 2018, ending a 20-year relationship with Hill Holliday, which came up with the “America runs on Dunkin’” tagline in 2006 that’s still in use today. Arc Worldwide works on retail marketing and JKR does Dunkin’s design-focused work, including cups that are more photo-friendly for brand fans to post on social media.
But it’s not just about packaging. After selling Dunkin’ nail polish, there’s now pumpkin-flavored lip balm with the brand’s lettering that it sells in what look like little Munchkin boxes. The brand has also figured out a way to make that “America runs on Dunkin’” line a reality: For the last two Boston Marathons, Dunkin’ and fellow Massachusetts-based brand Saucony teamed up for Dunkin’-branded sneakers.