Dunkin' Donuts Plays Hardball In Latest Campaign

Dunkin Donuts baseball campaignPitching an aggressive fastball in an effort to hit a home run, Dunkin' Donuts has launched a marketing campaign licensed by MLB.com, the Major League Baseball Players Association, a handful of teams and players, and 2K Sports.

The campaign, dubbed "Bases Loaded," kicked off Thursday and runs through Sept. 30. Peel-away stickers on cups of iced coffee, iced tea and smoothies reveal a one-time login code for participation in an instant-win game at dunkindonuts.com/basesloaded. Coupons for free items from Dunkin' Donuts' new Oven Toasted menu such as flatbread sandwiches and personal pizzas are available, too. Locations that do not offer Oven Toasted items on the menu will honor substitutions for coupons.

Free food and prizes aim to hook consumers on the taste of the restaurant's drinks, donuts and sandwiches. Discounts through coupons and a chance to win prizes sweeten the deal without adding calories. Dunkin' Donuts recently introduced a smoothie with 25% less sugar.



The promotion targets on-the-go-adults who lead busy lives. "We want to be their support system, the place where they pop in for great-tasting food and a beverage without waiting 15 minutes for an iced coffee or latte," says Scott Hudler, senior director of brand marketing at Dunkin' Donuts. "Like any other brand in our space, the way you build business is through loyalty."

At dunkindonuts.com/basesloaded, consumers come face-to-face with pitchers Jonathan Papelbon of the Boston Red Sox or Joba Chamberlain of the New York Yankees. By entering their email addresses, participants step up to the plate for a chance to win games from 2K Sports, Sharp Aquos TVs, a Microsoft Xbox 360 video game console, and tickets to local baseball games in participating markets. Visitors to the site also can download virtual bobbleheads, video trading cards, player ring tones and interactive games.

Papelbon and Chamberlain, along with pitchers Cole Hamels and Scott Kazmir, will promote the event through 30-second television spots in Boston, Chicago, Miami, and New York--along with online ads, in-store displays, and personal appearances throughout the summer. Known more prominently in the East, Dunkin' Donuts recently entered markets in Las Vegas, Dallas, Indianapolis, Ind., and Nashville, Tenn. Local markets may run print ads tied to the promotion.

Coffee houses and donut shops that rely on cold weather to sell hot coffee began seeking alternatives several years ago to offset declining sales during summer months. Starbucks introduced iced drinks, which had typically been a beverage enjoyed by U.S. consumers living in the Northeast. Several other quick-serve restaurants have followed.

That phenomenon has spread across western states from Washington to California, where residents tend to trend toward low-calorie iced nonfat lattés or light Frappucino treats from Starbucks, which recently launched a frequent-buyer's program that gives customers free drinks and up to two hours daily of free AT&T Wi-Fi access.

"Overall, we're about two years into iced coffee promotions, and I think it's been quite successful for Starbucks and McDonald's in attracting more customers during the summer," says Larry Miller, managing director at equity research firm RBC Capital Markets. "Iced coffee has been really an East Coast phenomenon. Regionally, people in the southern states will drink more iced tea over iced coffee."

Dunkin' Donuts' iced coffee is the second-most frequently sold coffee product after hot coffee. In the brewing process, called double brewing, the company uses twice the amount of coffee when making the beverage to maintain consistent flavor and freshness. The process helped sell more than 190 million servings of iced coffee in 2007.

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