Dunkin' Donuts eyes a coffee 'revolution'

Randolph, MA: Dunkin' Donuts has hired Fleishman-Hillard to handle a $1 million PR campaign promoting a new line of espresso-based drinks it will introduce in September. The assignment also includes promoting the donut chain's overall coffee line.

Randolph, MA: Dunkin' Donuts has hired Fleishman-Hillard to handle a $1 million PR campaign promoting a new line of espresso-based drinks it will introduce in September. The assignment also includes promoting the donut chain's overall coffee line.

"We actually outsell Starbucks in coffee, and very few people know that," said Erika Marshall, manager of global communications for Dunkin' Donuts. "We need to get the word out."

The chain contacted six agencies for presentations on the new assignment. Fleishman won the business because the theme of its presentation, "Revolution," fit with the company's vision of what its new products would do to the coffee marketplace - bring mass appeal to espresso's upscale reputation, Marshall said. The new line will include latte and cappuccino offerings.

Fleishman will handle the account from its New York office under the direction of Heidi Hovlund, director of the New York marketing communications practice.

The coffee excellence campaign Fleishman will run is designed to reinforce Dunkin' Donuts' expertise in selling a wide range of coffee products, Marshall said.

The chain has an image as a major coffee retailer in its home base of New England, but "I think we're perceived outside of New England as just a donut company," she said. While media attention in recent years has focused on new competition from Krispy Kreme as that chain expands, Dunkin' Donuts has been considering how to raise its coffee profile.

"Journalists really like to talk about the donut wars, but it's really about the coffee wars," Marshall said.

The chain, owned by Allied Domecq, also is expanding across the country. Of its 3,700 US outlets, only 200 are now west of the Mississippi.

"The number-one priority around here is how to make Dunkin' Donuts a truly national brand," said Cindy Gordon, director of global communications for Allied Domecq Quick Service Restaurants.

Dunkin' Donuts has no PR agency of record and has no plans to hire one. It works with a variety of agencies.

Weber Shandwick handles community relations in the mid-Atlantic region, and Cone does crisis communications work for the chain.

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