A Dunkin’ DON’T: Where DD failed in their advertising of ice cream flavors


Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts customers are forever competing with each other over which establishment has not only the best coffee, but the best overall experience.

Starbucks tends to attract the city-goer, millennials, and the very-complicated-order guy. While Starbucks is seen as a more up-scale coffee bar, Dunkin’s loyal customer base consists of the lower to middle class, mostly working parents and their children. Their coolattas and varied coffee flavors appeal to busy moms and dads catching a break between jobs or driving a kid to a soccer game. Dunkin’ Donuts scored an incredible target market with adults, especially mothers.

The easiest way to appeal to parents is with nostalgia. That is what I was expecting when DD introduced their ice cream flavors in 2014. While I am not a patron at DD, I was excited for the opportunities in advertising this campaign. All parents want a connection to youth, bearing their own children essentially gives them a chance to go through life all over again. That’s why you see a former basketball star father shoving his son into the same sport or daughters forced into cheerleading and pageants. Re-living youth through youth.

With ice cream flavors marketed at adults, DD has an amazing opportunity to bring back youth in an appropriate way (with a little kick of caffeine, of course). I want to see advertisements where the expected is flipped on its head.

Example: an ice cream truck with its typical joyful music is driving down the street. We see parents in every household stop what they are doing: feeding their kids, doing laundry, helping with homework, playing in the yard. There is only music playing as parents run screaming after the truck, much like children do. As their kids look in horror and embarrassment, the truck stops and alas, the man is giving out ice cream flavored coffees!

Now that is a digestible way to enjoy youth. Literally.




Why are advertisers overcompensating in commuter ads?

Commuter advertisements are any advertiser’s dream. People are stuck in one place from 30-60 minutes or more. They’ll be sitting in front of your advertisement the entire time, forced to look at it. In this time, they can visit your website, check out your app, maybe even buy something or share with friends.*cue the hallelujah chorus*

Since advertisers are spending who knows how much money on these print ads, one would assume they would spend the same amount of care and common sense in crafting their copy, design, etc that they do on conventional ads. However, time and time again I’m proven wrong. Way too many advertisers are under the impression that the highest word count will produce the best results. I guess they assumed that since commuters have the time to read all of their copy, they can save money by squishing all of the copy from different campaigns into one MetroNorth ad.

If you’re one of those advertisers that do this…please stop! I love advertising. I love the designing, the marketing, the split testing to see which colors and CTAs appeal to which demographics. What I don’t love is being confused by an advertisement because in the 60+ minutes I sat on the train, I still had no idea what I was supposed to be doing.

Below is an example of an advertisement that disappointed me:

My critiques:

  • Picture: The shirt and tie are too bland and I don’t feel emotionally connected to it. This advertisement is for a sale that obviously ends and yet the picture doesn’t make me feel as if I need to buy it right now.
  • Concept: I think the messaging about pronunciation is supposed to be comical, as if most people mispronounce the name. But saying “it’s pronounced shirts” really doesn’t make any sense. In a video or radio ad, we can hear (or see) people trying to pronounce the company name and understand that connection. But just seeing this in print loses its charm. (Plus I ended up spending a large amount of time trying to decide what the actual pronunciation was supposed to be. Even my elementary phonics didn’t help!)
  • Lefthand text: Why is this even here? The deal is really great and I even told a male friend about it. However, if the advertising concept is that you [using “you” as the company here] have a great promotion on shirts, you don’t need to convince me that your product is great. I can literally read a few lines below that I’m saving over $200 which proves the point that your product is expensive and worth buying.
  • CTA: There isn’t one. I’m told to visit their site or visit in-person. The website link is futile because in the url itself there’s no way to track that I received the link from this specific advertisement. How is this company tracking visits? How do they know they’re making any ROI? Telling customers to visit in-person also seems strange since the advertisement can be seen by people across NY and CT. There’s a small chance a busy commuter is going to take time out of their week to visit a store nowhere close to where they work or live.
  • Social Links: They also don’t exist! Sure, physically typing in a URL into Safari on my phone and forgetting about it could work. But don’t advertisers want to generate leads on social? As a Social Media Marketer, this particular mistake lit my brain on fire. Every time I (personally, as a consumer) like or follow a Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page, that business has the ability to hit me with other advertisements across those platforms as well. They continue that engagement, that conversation. Companies not only need to grab me on the train, but get me to still care once I step onto the platform.


What are your thoughts? As a consumer? As an advertiser? Let me know! I’ll follow-up with my thoughts on what I view as a “gold star” commuter ad in another post.


Feel free to connect with me here or on Twitter to follow my business insights and musings!

Ad Appreciation: Audible’s “Stories That Surround You”

Audible has actually left me speechless. At least for the duration of the ad. Which never happens. I was instantly immersed in the memory of reading Harry Potter for the first time in middle school. Seeing the New England foliage bend and fold into castles and stormy british skies. 

Imagination doesn’t end when your eyes leave the page — as you can see in Audible’s case, when the users close their eyes, their world transforms around them. 

Audible doesn’t need to sell you their product. They sold you on your love for reading and imagination. 

Your passion for different times.  

And different worlds.    


For turning mundane moments in life into sparks of passion. _________________________

These stories surround your busy life so you don’t have to miss out on incredible novels. Audible is the next generation of imagination for adults.

Ad Appreciation: Hallmark Gets Real

Typically we use Hallmark to describe perfect holiday moments like the first snowfall or a beautifully set dinner table. This year, however, Hallmark chose to celebrate the real moments in our crazy families instead of making us feel inadequate when the families on the Hallmark channel are way too happy and smiley. 

“KeepSakeIt” focuses on a micromanaging tree ornament mom, a couple obsessed with their newborn, an extended family struggling to get a group photo, and a confused grandpa who stumbled into a vegan thanksgiving (linked below). 

Vegan Christmas (Hallmark)

I’ve definitely seen a push towards celebrating the awkwardness and quirks of everyday families (think: Swiffer’s families who can’t clean well before getting their green box at the door). It’s nice to see a brand we associate with perfection to be breaking out of their shell and joining the “my family is weird” party. 

Keep it weird, Hallmark. 


Ad Appreciation: Moroch’s McDonalds

I’m going to start writing little tidbits about ads & commercials that I like without getting as in-depth as my other posts.

This ad popped up on facebook and I was surprised to be impressed by the whimsical and fun take on McDonald’s seeing as I’m not a patron of the fast food joint.


Moroch was able to really connect to the joy that is associated to a trip to McDonald’s as a child. How embedded these experiences are in childhood, right alongside their introduction to education.

The simplicity in these pictures prove that McDonald’s doesn’t need to try hard to attract children, the Happy Meal is predestined to make its way into their lives. 🍔 (Yes I just used an emoji. I work overnights so I like to inject comedy to stay sane.)

When Failed Attempts at Transparency Expose Even Bigger Lies

Crisis Marketing is an interesting industry. Whether you’re responding to a natural disaster or a company scandal, marketers have a duty to drastically change the public’s perception.

A positive example is when Hope Bagozzi, Director of Marketing at McDonalds Canada, actually debunked the myth that the burger in advertisements is a completely different product than what you get in-store. Bagozzi successfully showed an insider’s look of an actual McDonald’s photo shoot. We visit Watt International and sit through the actual recreation of a quarter-pounder and its photography and editing job. Contrary to popular belief, photoshop does not make the burger look completely different. The Marketing team wants their advertisements to actually show each individual ingredient on its own, something we don’t see in a burger we order since they’re made to all fit in between the buns.  Bagozzi cuts through the assumptions the public has made about McDonald’s products and guides us to our own conclusions: McDonald’s doesn’t have anything to hide. She successfully seized the opportunity to be transparent about the operations of McDonald’s marketing rather than wait for slanderers to come up with more material.  Bagozzi earned the public’s trust and maintained profits.

Unlike the example above, many companies have used crisis marketing like a well-oiled spin machine. This post will discuss the failed social media marketing campaign of #AskSeaWorld. Let’s delve into how the public responds when their intelligence is undermined by marketers.

The most cringe-worthy thing about social media campaigns that I have found is most companies don’t actually know how to sell to their audience. Fiat just posts trippy, irrelevant gifs on tumblr that everyone makes fun of while Taco Bell and DiGiorno Pizza are killin’ it on Twitter with their witty and humorous banter. Children and young adults are brutally honest in their opinions, especially with their growing knowledge of design, copy, font types, language, and sophistication with domestic and world news. Milennials are educated and can instantly point out errors and injustice. So if you give us incorrect information AND THEN a platform to discuss said incorrect information, it’s really your own fault for not knowing your audience.

Hashtags, in their simplest form, are a way to connect people. You can connect all of the middle-class white girls who use Starbucks like an outfit accessory and you can also connect people so passionate about animal rights that they will infiltrate a hashtag to post real questions that have yet to be answered. For some reason, there was a board of people who agreed that an #AskSeaWorld hashtag campaign was a good idea. That somehow the public wouldn’t take advantage of the podium and only ask cute zoo questions like what is the name of your favorite whale. This is the internet. Even worse, this is Twitter. For lack of better words, Sea World entered a lion’s den of individuals from all over the world who are not only familiar with the documentary Blackfish which exposed all of the animal torture and abuse, but have a whole library of resources at their fingertips to use as intellectual ammunition against any “I am not a crook” pushback from the marketing team.

Here are some screenshots I took of the public reactions to the hashtag campaign:

As you can see, the most recent posts are aimed at exposing the reality of Sea World. There are pages of tweets such as these, some witty, some painfully hard to read. No one is standing behind Sea World and Sea World has done nothing to stand up for itself rather than replying at people with some bit.ly link about how Blackfish is an apparent farce.

This doesn’t make Sea World look any more innocent, more-so they seem to have gotten themselves into a childish he-said/she-said argument. I would like to know who is in charge of their customer relations on Twitter and thought it was a solid plan to directly reply to each Twitter user just to tell them that they’re wrong. Copying and pasting the same link isn’t effective. Blaming Blackfish isn’t professional. All Sea World has done is ignite more fires than they are capable of extinguishing. Even if there were inaccuracies in the documentary, the baseline of everyone’s argument remains the same: how is using sea creatures for entertainment an effective rehabilitation strategy for animals that were supposedly rescued?

Sea World has yet to respond to this question because it would mean actually taking a look at the entire institution and explaining that making animals do tricks has nothing to do with their health and everything to do with man’s fascination with animals doing tricks. (Okay I have some bias in this statement, I apologize.)

As a closing statement for this campaign, don’t ask the public for questions if you’re not willing to give truthful answers.

GoPro: Redefining “user experience”

Technology is becoming so ingrained into our society that we don’t even realize when we use it. If I see something funny, I’m immediately opening my camera on my phone to save it. There’s no reason that it needed to be saved or shown to the world, but this is now our instinct as a culture. You see it in Apple commercials where the products are essentially an extension of the person using them. The iPad becomes the eyes of the parent watching a concert. That’s what I always loved about Apple’s commercials. Viewing the product transform the user’s experiences.

GoPro has taken this concept one step further: their commercials are actual footage from consumers.

GoPro is Emerson’s Transparent Eyeball: paying no attention to itself but instead allowing you to focus on intimate moments in your life. It’s selling you the moment right when a surfer enters the barrel of a wave and seems to almost float down the tube before the wave crashes. It’s selling you the second you feel your heart plunging into your stomach and your vocal chords forgetting how to scream as your body dissolves into the wind guiding your parachute. GoPro doesn’t showcase user experiences from third parties like Apple’s onlooker at her concert. The company encourages you to live without hesitation or disruption. It will cut through the ocean with you, jump 10,000 feet with you. It is your courage, fear, happiness, and love.

In GoPro’s commercials you don’t see the camera or its attachments or competitor price points. You don’t feel as if you’re being told to buy anything.

The company doesn’t actually sell you anything. They don’t need to.

That’s the brilliance of GoPro.

An Introduction

I’m obsessed with analyzing advertisements. I’m the kind of person who mutes the Super Bowl and takes notes during the commercials.

Why? Because I love copywriting and marketing; the ability to take products and birth emotional responses from consumers. One of the first things I discovered in an advertising class was that advertisers don’t lie to the public, they actually transform the public’s preconceived notions of what a product or company is capable of.

Creating advertisements is a whirlwind of fun, but analyzing them from a consumer perspective is a different level of marketing insight. With every print, multimedia, and TV ad I encounter, I ask myself the same questions: Why is the company spending money and time on this, why do we (the public) care, and what has changed about my worldview because of this ad.

All of the posts on this blog are entirely my own thoughts and I am not being paid for positive or negatives reviews. They also do not reflect my opinions on these companies as a whole, simply the advertisements featured in each post.