- Dunkin' Donuts has started a review for its U.S. creative business, according to a report in Ad Age, putting its nearly two-decade relationship with current agency of record (AOR) Hill Holliday in jeopardy. Hill Holliday came up with the brand's iconic "America Runs on Dunkin'" tagline in 2006 and has also served as AOR for Dunkin's media business since 1998 — a relationship that won't be affected by the developments in the creative department.
- Hill Holliday was invited to participate in the invitation-only review and will compete to keep the account, Ad Age said citing unnamed sources. The news comes on the heels of the quick-service brand announcing Tony Weisman as U.S. CMO in September. Weisman previously worked at Publicis' DigitasLBi agency where he led the Dunkin' account for six years.
- Dunkin' saw U.S. comparable sales rise 0.6% in Q3 and its millions of mobile app users accounted for 3% of transactions during that period. Visits to its 9,000 U.S. locations fell, but the average amount of money spent per visit went up, per Ad Age. McDonald's and Starbucks both had better comparable sales increases in their latest quarterly reports, and Dunkin' is now testing a streamlined menu in select locations, the publication said.
News of Dunkin' putting its creative business under review comes amid broader changes to the company's branding, marketing leadership and restaurant operations. In August, it was reported that the QSR was changing its name to just "Dunkin'" at select locations, better gelling with Hill Holliday's iconic "America Runs on Dunkin'" slogan and underscoring the growing dominance of its coffee business over doughnuts. When appointing Weisman to U.S. CMO earlier this fall, Dunkin' noted the executive would handle product innovation, field marketing, consumer insights and advertising, as well as the brand's digital and consumer packaged goods initiatives.
Dunkin' has frequently been cited as an innovative marketer in these areas, especially in the mobile space through its app, loyalty programs and clever promotions that leverage popular social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram. The share of sales driven from its mobile app in Q3 point to how this approach has translated to business success. However, as these types of offerings have become the standard order for the QSR industry, it's possible that Dunkin's foothold has slipped slightly and that it may be considering a heftier revamp to remain competitive.
A recent study from Engagement Labs found Dunkin' and its rival Starbucks both fell from the top spots in rankings around positive consumer social conversations and word of mouth over a six-month period ending in November — a surprising development given their strong mobile presence and performance in the coffee category.