When the Carlyle Group purchased Dunkin Donuts last year for $2.4 billion, they set ambitious growth targets that could not be met by mere donut flavor innovation. Instead, DDs decided to revive their languishing image with an advertising campaign called “America Runs on Dunkin,” which is based on market research that shows consumers want to identify with their coffee cup. This cup of coffee, this is who I am.
In order to forge a unique identity, DDs brands themselves as the antithesis of their most notable rivals. A paper Starbucks cup says: I enjoy sitting idly in a comfortable couches, listening to jazz, and contemplating life’s infinite largess. A stryofoam Dunkin Donuts cup says: I’m a frazzled, on-the-go American in need of caffeine and sugar to fuel my toxic, stressed-out, sleepless lifestyle.
The “Fritalian” commercial draws the battle lines by taking a thinly-veiled swipe at the Euro-stylings of Starbucks. In the 30-second commercial, a group of normal-looking people stand in a coffee shop, staring at the menu with total befuddlement, singing “My mouth can’t form these words. My mind can’t find these words. Is it French or is it Italian? Perhaps Fritalian.”
Americans, Dunkin Donuts forgives you. You’ve been a loyal Dunkin Donuts customer for most of your adult life, but at one time or another, you put on lofty airs by frequenting a certain other coffee chain. And – admit it – you were way over your head.
There you were, the hard-working American consumer, already inundated with cryptic words like “WiFi,” “Nanotubes,” and “Hazbollah,” struggling to draw on your 3 years of high school foreign language to pronounce “venti” and “macchiato” so you won’t look like a total fuck-face in front of these hipsters with their prominent tip jars and those yuppie professionals who know all the “coffee ordering” ropes by virtue of their trust fund youths and European vacations.
Americans, you don’t want to be degraded. All you want is a cup of coffee to fuel your go-go lifestyle. So come to Dunkin Donuts, where you can proudly speak American when you order your Dunkaccino.