Dunkin' Donuts faced a storm of criticism on Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday, when dozens -- if not hundreds -- of angry people expressed everything from annoyance to outrage that they had been unable to get a free iced coffee.
Because of the Canton, Mass.-based company's 60th anniversary this year, a spokesperson tells Marketing Daily, it decided to do regional promotions rather than its annual "Free Iced Coffee Day." But apparently, someone created a false Facebook page about it being a national event; on Monday Facebook pulled it down.
The real free coffee was offered only in six states, and none of them in New England, where the brand got its start -- a point that particularly stuck in the craw of those in that region.
During the afternoon, the company apologized for the confusion. On Twitter, @javajosh took to pointing out where the promotion was being offered and responding to some individual tweets. Dunkin's Facebook page contained several responses to individual fans as well as a status update that pointed to other ways to get a free coffee.
One fan wrote, "I Love your coffee however this is a loop hole excuse in false advertisement. ... It's just sad that good paying everyday customers looked forward to this ...." To which Dunkin' replied: "We're sorry for any confusion or misinformation that is out there. Any Facebook event page out there was inaccurate, wasn't set up by us and has been pulled down by Facebook."
McCall Gosselin, public relations manager at Dunkin' Brands, noted that "with regional promotions, there is a risk that offers taking place in select markets can go viral via the power of the Internet, social media channels and blogs, potentially causing confusion."
Starting on Wednesday, she said, Dunkin' will promote "Boston on Ice," taking place in the Hub on Thursday and Friday. Street teams in branded Yarises will give away 120 tickets to the Boston Bruins playoff games or 2,500 Bruins T-shirts on the spot to anyone in an area from southern New Hampshire to Cape Cod and from Boston to Worcester who is spotted with a Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee.
That effort will be promoted via radio and pr/media outreach support and then, the company hopes, by word of mouth.