An incredibly intrepid woman jumps off a snowy and steep mountain peak, flies down the terrain at incredible speeds and literally snatches off a bag of Dunkin’ Donuts from an implausible store “on-the-fly”: a donut she had ordered on her Dunkin’ app, just before she flew off the mountain face.
You can only have one of two reactions to this commercial. You’re either saying “wow!!” or else you’re going “huh?!?”
Both reactions are valid, according to me. This is truly an insane amount of money, effort, creative enterprise and daring, to sell a donut. Whoever thought of getting Ellen Brennan, the world’s fastest flying woman, to zip across the skies for the World’s Fastest Dunkin’ Run is clearly a creative nutjob. And my guess is – a punster too. You’ve heard the phrase “picking up something on the fly” right? Now I wasn’t there in the brainstorming room but I wouldn’t be surprised if after a three hour meeting, when everyone was exhausted and brain drained, some cheeky writer threw this line into the middle and said – hey, what if we did that? Like, literally?
I don’t really need to talk you through the making of, and the madness, of the actual commercial. That is available all over the internet. But I am definitely left wondering “WTF?” I mean, seriously, why would you do that? As the servicing agency, as the client, as the person holding the purse strings, as the one calculating ROI – why? I can understand the creative high…. But creative people are always brought back to earth by the more logical left brain lot. So what the heck happened to them here?
One is, what I call, the seduction of a great idea. In my working life I have seen that happen to dozens of business heads – the good ones. When you encounter a really sexy idea, you allow it to seduce you. And that moving away from the P&L sheet is precisely what differentiates a revenue head from a business head.
The latest Dunkin’ Donuts ad is more importantly about the person who has that need for speed.
Two – and this one is important – imagine the kind of person who picks up a coffee and donut, on the run. Orders it via an app because he / she doesn’t even have the time or patience to stand in line and get it. A pretty busy ant life, I’d venture to guess. Lower to middle management, hamster on a wheel, twelve hour days, tube rides back and forth, meetings, pin stripe shirts and utter total anonymity at the end of an exhausting day.
Yes, most likely that person is ordering a donut ‘on the fly’. How do you make this person feel special? Feel like there is some purpose and meaning to what he / she is doing? This imagery of borrowed heroism is perhaps one of the most suave marketing strategies yet: because it isn’t marketing the product. It is marketing the consumer. You, Ms Donut Buyer, are not an invisible ant on a tube rushing to keep up with an underpaying over working job. You are a hero. You are a flyer, a HIGH flyer. You are the one who is jumping off a snowy mountain cliff in France, zipping across the terrain with bulls-eye concentration towards the goal ahead; you have grim determination, and exceptional, incredible talent to achieve it.
You, Ms Donut Buyer, are not an invisible ant on a tube rushing to keep up with an underpaying over working job.
Our donut? Oh that’s just a humble sugar rush along the way.
Yes, the latest Dunkin’ Donuts ad definitely IS about speed as a motif for fast food outlets. No doubt. But more importantly, it’s about the person who HAS that need for speed. It’s a fantasy minute in a world filled with dull hours and carry along coffee. It makes the mundane exotic.
And that finally brings me back to my pet subject: arresting content. Over and beyond everything else, all good advertising today recognises the need to create compelling content. There is an implosion of content all around us in the digital space. Content that is at the consumers command, that demands no appointments and is increasingly medium agnostic. The lines between audio and video, digital and traditional, film and commercial are all getting entirely blurred. All material has to first and foremost be compelling content. And only then can it tick all the other brand and product boxes, the USP, the sales strategy and the business objectives.
I will watch something if its entertaining and captures my interest. I might then buy what it is trying to sell.
Next time we buy a Dunkin’ Donut we will feel that crisp fresh snowy air rush across our faces.
A woman flying across the sky to grab something mid air is breath taking content – whatever that ‘something’ is. It’s an adventure fairy tale. Its Disney meets Harry Potter meets Nat Geo. And yes, there is a Dunkin’ Donut thrown in there in that amazing mix.
Next time we buy a Dunkin’ Donut we will feel that crisp fresh snowy air rush across our faces, and vicariously experience that mind-blowing adrenalin high. Pretty much the route Mountain Dew took too. Because it is that which makes the consumer feel great, which gets consumed. Otherwise what is a bit of refined wheat and sugar? Or a carbonated drink? Junk after all.
And junk food cannot possibly sustain with junk advertising. Probably the reason why all junk gets the most spectacular advertising and marketing ever. So that, that little voice in your head can get silenced: the one that says ‘eat healthy’.
Client: Dunkin’ Donuts
Agency: DigitasLBi, Boston
Chief Creative Officer: Ronald Ng
Executive Creative Director: Doug Schiff
SVP Creative: Jamie Ferreira
Group Creative Director/Art Director: Mark Chamberlain
Group Creative Director/Copywriter: Marc Gottesman
Associate Creative Director: Mike Egan
Art Director: Brian Noyes
Copywriter: Jason Kaplan
Designer: Jimmy Alleman
VP, Exec. Producer: Ben Raynes
SVP, Account Director: Julie Blanche
Account Manager: Shayna Lederman
Production Company: Seven Twenty
Directors: Guido Perrini, Mark Chamberlain
Cinematographers: Adrien Nisan, Lauri Aapro, Toby Bradley
VP, Editor: Toar Winter
Editor/Motion Graphics: Annie Lefley
Athletes: Ellen Brennan, Laurent Frat
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