To Dunkin’ Donuts, Media Is More Than Just New User Acquisition

dunkinDunkin’ Donuts’ marketing might be known for big awareness campaigns like “America Runs On Dunkin” and “Keep On,” but the brand also breaks down media into smaller, product-specific activations.

For instance, when Dunkin’ began serving cold-brew coffee this past summer, it let consumers unlock custom geofilters through a special code on Snapchat.

“Coffee is such a big part of people’s lives that we’re looking on the media side, where we can be there when there’s an opportunity for a connection,” said Nick Dunham, director of media and partnerships for Dunkin’ Donuts.

Dunham spoke with AdExchanger about Dunkin’s evolving media mix, and how it leverages it for loyalty and CRM.

AdExchanger: What’s the director of media for Dunkin’ Donuts responsible for?

NICK DUNHAM: My role, though it sounds very traditional, has changed and evolved as the term “media” has evolved. It’s all about overseeing where paid impressions go, and their interaction with not only the earned piece, but tying in all of the consumer touch points and having that 360-view in a multichannel marketing campaign.

Whether that’s a very traditional launch like Cold Brew, or if it’s marketing for a specific event like National Coffee Day, each marketing message has its own importance and its own objective, whether it’s pure awareness, a brand connection and sales.

How do you tie individual product launches like Cold Brew into larger brand campaigns like “Keep On?”

We’re designing our marketing around not only what message we want to deliver, but how people are using the platforms in which the message lives. For instance, Snapchat’s geofilters – this behavior of people snapping in a Dunkin’ store – was happening regardless of whether we marketed to them or not. So using custom geofilters to celebrate Valentine’s Day or National Coffee Day was a tie-in to something that was already happening with our customer. It’s that added personalization in addition to the traditional media like TV, outdoor billboards or radio spots we do, which still have a lot of appeal.

Do you mix traditional and experimental budgets?

When we look at new formats and channels, ideally the nirvana we want is what we call scalable personalization. So things like Snapchat, or when we launched stickers in iOS 10 with [mobile messaging platform] Snaps, can sometimes rival the reach of a TV spot, based on our footprint and all our loyal customers. I tend not to think of our [media mix] as a pie chart. As modern marketers, you need to be able to do most of everything. It’s not taking from one to give to another.

How does the media team work with CRM teams?

We work very closely with my counterparts who run our loyalty program, the Dunkin’ Donuts Perks Program. We really work hand-in-hand trying to be an acquisition engine for them. While you’re able to target and reach people in a much more contextual and meaningful way, you’re also able to more effectively talk to people using creative formats that go beyond a CRM-based buy.

holidaycoffeelineup_midCan you give an example?

We targeted potential Dunkin’ Perks hand raisers on Facebook using creative formats from BuzzFeed, which did a [custom video] for us when we launched on-the-go mobile ordering. Where we have seen a lot of evolution is in going much deeper in the storytelling and connecting back to all the CRM elements. We always strive to have connections to the broader digital teams like CRM and loyalty, versus just looking at who watched this TV ad, saw this banner ad then signed up for Dunkin’ Perks.

Has that changed media metrics?

Our goal will always be to reach the right people at the right time, and contributing the most qualified hand raisers to our loyalty program. As we think about new platforms like Waze offering their own customization, all of a sudden we might have hand raisers in the Waze app, who might also be Dunkin’ Perks hand raisers.

How is Dunkin’ prioritizing programmatic media?

You take the science of what may be happening in a programmatic buy and take the art of what may be happening in a direct-to-publisher creation, and you try to do both well. Ideally, you find an area where you can apply both tactics.

Sometimes we work with publishers knowing this is purely a distribution deal, but other times when we have stuff produced by a social influence where they speak directly to their audience about Dunkin’ products, that tends to be something we can take and share on our own platforms and get a little more data on how people are interacting with that.

How has the prevalence of platform-distributed media changed things for you?

You tend to have strategic advisers at platforms like Facebook, Google, Twitter and Snapchat, where a campaign is much more of a shared idea. And even though you’re within a walled-garden environment, they’re large in scale and our campaigns are customized to be effective for our media plan.

Ideally, you’d want to be able to wrap it all up together, which is why you have media planners wanting this data to flow into one specific area to get back to this idea of omnichannel. It’s not there yet, but as long as we continue to have customized programs, we still like we’re driving the business and doing meaningful communications.

Interview edited for clarity and length.

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