Dunkin' Donuts to align PR business with a single firm

CHICAGO: Dunkin' Brands, parent firm of Dunkin' Donuts, is moving toward jettisoning its multi-agency approach, and next week is expected to choose between two midsize agencies - RF Binder Partners and Marina Maher Communications - to serve as its new AOR

CHICAGO: Dunkin' Brands, parent firm of Dunkin' Donuts, is moving toward jettisoning its multi-agency approach, and next week is expected to choose between two midsize agencies - RF Binder Partners and Marina Maher Communications - to serve as its new AOR

As part of the $2 million, 12-month account, the winner will handle PR for both the national brand as well as the mid-Atlantic region, which includes the New York and Philadelphia markets.

A decision is expected next week, according to Carolyn Kravetz, director of global communications for Dunkin' Brands.

The company had been using Fleishman-Hillard for national PR and Weber Shandwick for mid-Atlantic work but decided to use a single agency on both assignments, Kravetz said.

"We're moving to a one-voice communications strategy so we're able to leverage our messages," she explained.

If the yearlong arrangement proves successful, the company will consider bringing its other regions under the agency that it uses for national PR.

"This is a model we're taking a look at," Kravetz said.

Dunkin' Brands hires regional agencies around the US, unlike other food chain operators such as McDonald's, whose local franchisee groups hire regional PR firms.

Kravetz added that agency size was not a factor in the decision, and that both finalists are large enough to handle the business.

The two finalists "brought a level of expertise in media relations, and the past experiences of the teams they would put on the business were quite strong," she said.

Kravetz began the search by meeting with 15 agencies in late May and early June to hear about their capabilities. Nine firms were invited to respond to an RFP, and six were invited to make formal presentations.

Fleishman declined to take part in the RFP process. WS, which had worked for the brand's mid-Atlantic region for the past seven years, submitted a proposal, but it is unclear how far the agency advanced.

Other agencies considered included Hill & Knowlton and Cohn & Wolfe, Kravetz said.

Dunkin' Donuts brought Fleishman on board in 2003 to promote a line of espresso drinks and its portfolio of coffees.

The donut chain has been trying to remind consumers that it offers a wide array of coffees, positioning itself as an alternative to Starbucks.

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