How Bark Keeps Dunkin' Deal Fresh

Brand mash-ups are an accident-prone marketing trick. But as Bark and Dunkin’ roll out their fourth iteration of themed dog toys, kids are the winners. So far, the partnership has raised $7 million, sending therapy dogs into 30 pediatric hospitals, where they’ve met hundreds of thousands of young patients.

The chemistry between the two brands is everything. “The beauty of working with Dunkin is that its brand approach lines up well with our own,” says Dave Stangle, Bark’s vice president of brand marketing. “Like us, they ask themselves, 'How do we make our audience crazy about products? How do we keep things fresh?’”

That’s also a core component of BarkBox, which constantly seeks new ways to please its subscribers. “We invent a new world every month for our subscribers’ dogs,” he tells Marketing Daily.



And while dog toys may not be on the same replenishment cycle as a morning coffee from the Dunkin drive-through, “consumers tend to forget about this tie-in until it comes back. And so many people bring their dogs to the Dunkin drive-through with them. Then there’s this surprise -- a delight -- when people say, 'This is the month I can bring Dunkin’ into my dog's world.’”

One change has been adding signage to Dunkin’s drive-throughs, which he says significantly boosted sales.

This year’s toys include a Dunkin’ Sausage, Egg and Cheese dog toy for a $13 donation, a Dunkin’ Iced Coffee Combo, a Dunkin’ Mocha Latte and Dunkin’ Super Chewer Munchkins for $15. (There’s a surprise toy in the latte, and Munchkins have a tough rubber core for more demanding pups.)

And the companies are already at work on next year’s collection. “We’re going to blow the thing up and get people to see how much Dunkin' cares about the dogs in their audience's world,” Stangle says.

It’s one of the company’s more popular efforts, along with the just-concluded annual event with Subaru. The Subaru Loves Pets Month program supports pet rescues and adoptions, and Bark participates with pet-parent kits and plush toys.

Stangle says the company is finishing a trial with the Girl Scouts, which did well and looks like it will expand into a longer-term collaboration.

“All of our brand partnerships are different,” he says. “But in the end, if we create an experience for the dog lovers in any of our brand partners’ audience, we're doing good. We're making their universe bigger and more inclusive of dogs, and that's what we want to do.”

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