UPDATE: June 22, 2021: The digital engagement team Dunkin' formed last summer around the appointment of a chief digital and strategy officer is now part of the shared Commercial Services function at Inspire Brands, Dunkin' said over email. Stephanie Meltzer-Paul, who previously served as senior vice president of digital marketing for Dunkin' U.S., was named SVP of the digital guest experience at Inspire Brands in January 2021.
Dunkin' has named Rafael Acevedo as U.S. chief marketing officer following a nearly two-year search to fill the role previously held by Tony Weisman, according to an announcement.
The appointment, effective immediately, oversees brand marketing, product innovation, field marketing, advertising and digital marketing initiatives and reports directly to Dunkin' President Scott Murphy, who also heads up the beverage and snack category at parent company Inspire Brands. Acevedo will also work closely with Dunkin's operations team to bridge marketing and sales.
Acevedo carries more than two decades of industry experience and previously worked at The Coca-Cola Company, where he last oversaw marketing for the beverage giant's tea portfolio. He steps up to bat as CMO of Dunkin' as the company navigates a pandemic reopening that has changed consumer expectations for quick-service restaurants.
Dunkin' is bringing on a new CMO just as the U.S. economy starts to reopen at scale thanks to progress on COVID-19 vaccinations. In the announcement, Acevedo was noted for his work revitalizing and innovating with brands, including through the relaunch of Diet Coke in 2018 — a bid to better reach millennial buyers.
At Dunkin', the executive will need to account for how consumer habits have been reshaped by the pandemic, such as the more widespread adoption of mobile and digital ordering channels. Dunkin' was investing heavily in those areas prior to the health crisis, but it's a space that's only grown more competitive. Separately, the restaurant category is weathering troubles in hiring enough workers to meet the return in consumer demand, putting QSR marketers in a tricky position.
Acevedo is the first executive to fill Dunkin's U.S. CMO role since the brand was acquired by Arby's and Sonic owner Inspire Brands for $11.3 billion last year. Dunkin's previous CMO, Tony Weisman, helped modernize the chain's image, most notably through a rebrand that dropped "Donuts" from the name in recognition of a more diverse menu. Weisman also spearheaded bigger bets on mobile and digital offerings that have only grown more prominent in Dunkin's marketing since his departure in late 2019.
Dunkin' made several moves to align its marketing more squarely around digital and data-driven operations last year. One of the most significant was the creation of a chief digital and strategy officer role, and with it, a new team dedicated to digital engagement. Philip Auerbach, who was tapped as the first chief digital and strategy officer last summer, parted ways with the company at the start of 2021, according to his LinkedIn page. He has acted as chief commercial officer for the dating app Bumble since January.
Meanwhile, Dunkin's recent marketing efforts have emphasized its qualities as a lifestyle brand that caters to diehard fans. For Valentine's Day, it flipped some of its drive-thru lanes into experiences where couples could get married or renew their wedding vows as regular celebrations were waylaid by COVID-19. The chain in May introduced a limited-edition collaboration with millennial favorite paint brand Backdrop that was inspired by its pink-and-orange color scheme.
Inspire Brands has also recently retooled some of Dunkin's agency relationships. The company in February named Publicis Groupe as its media agency of record covering media planning and buying for Arby's, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Dunkin', Jimmy John's and Sonic. The ad holding group's Zenith and Digitas shops are leading a newly created unit called Inspired Media Engine for the account.