- For the first time, Dunkin' Donuts is introducing doughnuts with Halloween-themed icing designs that will be available through October at participating restaurants nationwide, according to a company press release.
- To promote the spooky treats, the brand is running a 15-second video spot featuring "Dancing Pumpkin Man." Matt Geiler's Dancing Pumpkin Man first hit the internet in 2009, quickly becoming a popular meme, and Dunkin' previously used the character to promote the return of pumpkin-flavored coffee in August.
- With the Halloween rollout, Dunkin' is also beginning "Community Cups," its annual in-store fundraising effort to benefit the Joy in Childhood Foundation. The benefit runs through Nov. 19 and anyone making a donation at a Dunkin' Donuts or Dunkin' Donuts/Baskin-Robbins multi-brand location will get a paper icon that includes a coupon for a dollar off a dozen donuts.
Dunkin' clearly wants to tap into the Halloween spirit with the 11 holiday-themed doughnuts, even as it mulls dropping "Donuts" from its brand name and starts to cut back on the number of the fluffy pastries it serves. Leveraging an old internet meme like Dancing Pumpkin Man to promote the limited-run offerings might stoke some very-recent nostalgia for consumers but also runs the risks of painting the brand as trying too hard to appear hip and knowledgeable about what's popular online. Memes inherently have a short shelf life and brands often misuse them in their marketing or otherwise only deploy them when they're deemed "stale" by prickly users.
Dunkin' is aiming for a little virality of its own, sharing the Dancing Pumpkin Man spot on its social media channels along with creating GIFs in a bid to replicate the popularity of the original 2009 video (it has nearly 7 million YouTube hits). The chain is also asking fans to let them know which of the specialty donuts is their favorite on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, potentially drumming up some user-generated content.
The QSR has been running some interesting promotions this fall, including a partnership with e-retailer Rue La La to highlight its DD Perks loyalty program while offering the platform's shoppers free shipping for a month. In September, it named Tony Weisman as U.S. CMO, plucking him from his previous position as North American CEO of Publicis' DigitasLBi agency, where he worked for years with the brand. One of Weisman’s early goals might be overseeing the rebranding to just Dunkin'.