Creative: Wake Up And Smell The Coffee

Dunkin’ Ads Pour Cafe Blend
Agency: Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos
Client: Dunkin’ Donuts
Creative Directors: Mike Sheehan, Dave Gardiner
Copywriter: Marty Donohue
Art Director: Tim Foley
Production Co.: Shelter Films
Director: Jonathan David
Watch out, Starbucks. A new Dunkin’ Donuts ad by Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, drips with the condescending attitude of a counter clerk at an upscale coffee store to introduce a new product, Cafe Blend.
The spot, titled “Mob,” opens on customers lined up at a dark-wood coffee counter. A clerk sneers at the first customer, “Well done. You’d like coffee. What kind of coffee?”
The camera stays fixed on the counter boy’s face as he addresses other patrons, ridiculing one for mispronouncing a specialty java. “Hello. That’s called ‘latte,'” he says. Drumming his finger and rolling his eyes, he says to another: “Your order bores me.”
Like characters from a macabre novel, the customers exact their revenge. When counter boy closes shop for the night, they wait for him outside. He sniffs at them anew. “What do you want?”
“We’re through with you,” shouts one.
“You people need me,” he says, maintaining his petulant tone.
“Oh no, we don’t,” says another.
An elderly male customer holds out a cup labeled “Cafƒ Blend.” The voiceover says: “Dunkin’ Donuts presents Cafƒ Blend, a bold, rich blend without all that bitterness.”
Starbucks is not mentioned by name, but the implication is clear. “We’ve all been there,” says creative director Mike Sheehan, a Dunkin’ devotee long before he worked on the account. Adds copywriter Marty Donohue of the actors cast in the spot: “Jonathan [David], the director, has a great eye for people and he really got into Dunkin’ people. They’re not characters. They all seem fairly natural.”
Consumer research found that non-Dunkin’ customers had positive feelings toward the brand, but not the regular coffee blend. “As a product, [Cafƒ Blend] tested very high with nonusers. Purchase intent went right through the roof,” says Eddie Binder, Dunkin’ Donuts vice president of marketing.
In a second spot, titled “Tickets,” two guys in a pickup arrive at a ballpark ticket office to find a crowd of fans waiting for the window to open. “I’ve got an idea,” one says to the other, driving away from the scene. They return with a truckload of coffee. The crowd leaves the window for the free coffee now being dispensed from the back of the truck. When the ticket window opens, the man is first in line. “May I help you?” asks the clerk. “Yes, you can,” he says, with a smug smile and his cup of Dunkin’.
Breaking last week, the spots are scheduled to run until December, when they will be replaced by a trio of amusing holiday ads. That work, Binder says, will also promote consumers’ “love of the brand.”