Dunkin' fooled Portland foodies with an espresso pop-up

Brand is the latest to disguise itself as something more upscale

Published On
Dec 06, 2018

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Dunkin' pranked the foodies of Portland, Maine with a pop-up espresso cafe that disguised its coffee as something more upscale. 

In a stunt reminiscent of Payless' attempt to fool customers with a boutique called Palessi recently, the chain opened "S!p," a hip-looking cafe with a local coffee shop vibe, but serving Dunkin' espresso drinks. It also asked a reality TV star, Jonathan Cheban, to step in and serve behind the counter. Then, as seen in the video here, it filmed customers waxing lyrical about their love of quality coffee and locally owned businesses before revealing its own branding on paper cups hidden inside the "S!p" packaging. 

Dunkin’ says it saw strong results on the heels of the activation, with a more than 60% lift in espresso units sold in Portland in the week following the event compared to the same time last year.

Other discount brands to have fooled consumers by disguising themselves in upscale packaging include Lidl, which opened a "gourmet" pop-up in Stockholm a few years ago called "Dill," serving food sourced from its supermarkets. 

McDonald's, meanwhile, took a different approach by poking fun at hipster coffee shops in a U.K. spot for its McCafe brand last year.