Dunkin’ Donuts Is Launching the First TV Ad Made Entirely From Vine

Eating up the 'snackable' inventory

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During this evening’s Monday Night Football pregame show on ESPN, Dunkin’ Donuts will run what’s most certainly the first TV ad made entirely from a single Vine—Twitter’s popular six-second social video format.

The fast-food chain will actually peel one second off its Vine clip to fit into the network’s five-second billboard ad unit, which appears full-screen between segments during ESPN programs. Dunkin’ Donut’s animated billboard tonight will feature a latte that flips a coin to signify the start of a football game. It’s one of four versions that ESPN Monday Night Countdown viewers will see throughout the 16-game season.

“We think a billboard using Vine is dramatically more engaging than a standard billboard with a corporate logo on it,” said Scott Hudler, vp of global consumer engagement, Dunkin’ Brands. “Everyone is multitasking while watching TV with their phone, tablet or laptop. A lot of times, the content on their mobile device is not related to their TV shows. We want to make sure we’re supporting our TV investment with social media that’s [relevant]. It’s our job to make sure that it’s tied together to drive consumer engagement.”

What’s more, the ESPN ads will promote a Vine the retailer tweets out in each game’s final quarter this year with a #DunkinReplay hashtag. Led by Hill Holliday, the brand’s “newsroom” team will select a memorable play from the first half and virtually recreate it with Dunkin’ Donut products.

“We’ll buy Promoted Tweets on Twitter and target people who are already watching the game, so they know that this fun content is available,” explained Stacey Shepatin, svp at Hill Holliday. “Sports have always been one of the most social environments—especially football. So we’ll get good [intel] on whether people want to participate in this way.”

Dunkin’ Donuts enters its third year as an ESPN sponsor for Monday Night Countdown, though it’s an increasingly social relationship. Ed Erhardt, ESPN sales lead, called the chain’s new Vine play “groundbreaking.”

While Dunkin’ Donuts’ Vine play is new, other brands have similar TV campaigns in mind. Nissan plans to soon use the mobile video app for the tube. And late last week, Virgin Mobile began running a :30 spot on MTV and Comedy Central comprised of a mashup of multiple Vine videos from a consumer contest.

“Those cable channels seemed appropriate given the young demo that’s on Vine,” said Felicia Martin-Hill, Virgin Mobile’s marketing manager. “But whether we end up learning to employ Vine in rich digital display or on TV again, it will be interesting to see where it goes.”

Jonathan Doran, an analyst at Ovum, added, “Integrating social media with TV is becoming more normal. But it’s still very nascent and experimental.”

But ESPN’s Erhardt suggested that future TV ad units could include more “snackable” inventory thanks to the rising influence of social and mobile.

“As agencies, media companies and clients get more comfortable with the six-second Vine [videos],” he said, “it makes these short-form ad treatments more viable for all to use.”

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.