Dunkin’ Duels Starbucks With Taste Test

NEW YORK Pepsi did it to Coca-Cola. Miller Lite used it against Bud Light, and now Dunkin’ Donuts is unleashing its blind taste test against Starbucks.

Dunkin’ Donuts is claiming coffee superiority in a new ad campaign debuting today. The first TV spot features a woman in a lab coat toting a clipboard who asks various working stiffs (an auto mechanic, power line repairman, TV reporter and taxi driver) which coffee they prefer. Of course, they select Dunkin’.

The narrator states that in a national taste test more hardworking Americans preferred the taste of Dunkin’ Donuts over Starbucks, and implores, “Try the coffee that won and find out why America really does drive on Dunkin.”

DunkinBeatStarbucks.com takes another shot at Starbucks with text such as: “It’s just more proof that it’s all about the coffee (not the couches or music).” The Web site also flags 99-cent deals for latte or an egg and cheese sandwich with the purchase of a medium or large coffee. The online outreach also includes YouTube.com and Facebook.com. Radio and in-store also support.

Hill, Holliday in Boston handles. Measured media spending during January through August in the U.S. exceeded $85 million, per Nielsen Monitor-Plus.

The chain hired A&G Research to survey 476 adults in 10 cities, including Starbucks’ hometown, Seattle. The poll sampled fresh packs purchased from each brand’s stores of Dunkin’ Donuts Original Blend against Starbucks’ House Blend. According to Dunkin’ Donuts, 54.2 percent of participants preferred Dunkin’ coffee compared to 39.3 percent who chose Starbucks and 6.3 percent who expressed no preference.

“The results of this independent taste test underscore what our customers have always known: Dunkin’ Donuts quite simply serves the best cup of coffee in the country,” Frances Allen, brand marketing officer for Dunkin’ Donuts, said in a statement. Starbucks execs were not available.