Dunkin' Donuts: Running With Friends


Client: Dunkin’ Brands
Product: Dunkin’ Donuts
Category: Restaurants, Fast Food, Grocery Stores
Agency: Hill Holliday
Country: United States
Year: 2014


Campaign Summary

Dunkin' Donuts is a market leader in the coffee, donuts, bagels and muffin categories in the U.S., and it  wanted to develop a campaign that would do the following:  

  1. Reach a younger audience, ages 18 - 49, in the most effective way possible given that the media consumption of this audience is fragmented;
  2. Communicate product offerings in a way that engages consumers, keeps the brand and products top-of-mind and encourages store visitation and purchase; and
  3. Drive comp sales.

Objective and Context

Dunkin' Donut’s challenge was to gain market share in a highly competitive marketplace. McDonald’s, the number one competitor from an advertising spend standpoint, significantly increased spend on this business segment, while Starbucks began to support coffee product lines aimed directly at Dunkin'. Fewer people were taking part in the daily ritual of out-of-house coffee and breakfast, home-brewing options were on the rise and upgraded convenience store offerings focused on coffee quality, selection and discounts. However, with more brands entering and competing for share in the breakfast and coffee market, Dunkin' saw a rare and lucrative opportunity for growth in the quick service restaurant (QSR) category.

The increased importance of social recommendations also spoke to Dunkin’s need to grow a more engaged social footprint. At least once a day, 60% of Americans mention a food and dining brand in their conversations. Starbucks’ social efforts spoke directly to the engaged mobile consumer, a prime audience target for Dunkin'.

Dunkin’s mobile mantra is that the on-the-go consumer has their Dunkin' coffee in one hand and their smartphone in the other. The focus and goal of this campaign was to align with that behavior in order to create a more meaningful connection point with Dunkin’s core target.

Creative Strategy

TV has always played an effective role in the Dunkin' media plan. Nevertheless, Dunkin' has been committed to exploring media opportunities that capitalize on new consumer behaviors and enhance TV’s reach and effectiveness. For example, over 100+ million U.S. mobile gamers spend an average of 7.8 hours a month gaming on their phones. With an average age of 28.2, these gamers are in the core Dunkin' demographic of 18-49, split equally between men and women.

Given the success the brand had had with gaming integrations with Sims Social and SimCity Social, Dunkin' wanted to apply a similar value-add approach to emerging, buzz-worthy games specific to mobile and tablet devices. Dunkin' brought to life the brand mantra “America Runs on Dunkin'” through a strategic integration with a brand-new, buzz-worthy game that included opportunities to drive to in-store experiences – a branded integration with Zynga’s 2013 release of a game called Running With Friends.

Media and creative strategies were inextricably linked and mobile-centric. Dunkin' provided value for gamers through branded tips to help them play the game better, while Dunkin' branded Power Ups -- custom coffee bags players could pick up during gameplay to improve performance -- and a geo check-in feature encouraged users to visit actual Dunkin' restaurants and rewarded gamers with the native in-game currency. Their arrival was verified by mobile GPS. The call to action was displayed in prominent locations within the game, prompting users to visit their closest Dunkin' location. A GPS-enabled map guided users to the closest Dunkin' restaurant when consumers opted in.

Not only did Dunkin' see significant brand engagement with in-game interactions of virtual elements and branded metric lifts, but the check-in feature also created an opportunity to expand beyond Running With Friends into other gaming titles with a similar check-in feature.


Below are the results of the campaign:

  • Over 65,000 physical check-ins to Dunkin' locations as a result of the in-game reward feature.
  • Over 145 million Dunkin' Bags redeemed.
  • Over 13 million people upgraded with the Branded Power-Up during non-gameplay.
  • 155 million branded impressions were delivered and 75 million were purchased/guaranteed.
  • Overall brand engagement increased + 15% in mobile ad app awareness, + 7.5% brand favorability and + 6.5% purchase intent.
  • There was a significant reach and increase of all metrics against the 18 - 34 demographic; brand favorability increased +4.4%, and purchase intent increased +4.6%.
  • Brand favorability among frequent Dunkin' visitors increased +8.8%, and purchase intent increased +7.1%.
  • Respondents who visit Dunkin' once a week or less became more likely to purchase Dunkin' products in the future.
  • Dunkin' received significant positive press coverage for the Dunkin' integration and game from Mashable, All Things Digital, Inside Social Games, TechCrunch and VentureBeat.


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