It’s Good to Be the DunKings

While any good marketing agency can design a quality ad, none can guarantee that it will go viral or garner any significant media attention. But Ben Affleck and the rest of the A-list talent at the creative studio Artists Equity have achieved both of these PR triumphs with the sensational DunKings campaign for Dunkin’ Donuts. People are responding to stark innovation that has been part of the Artists Equity approach from the very beginning.  

Ben Affleck and his longtime collaborator and fellow Oscar-winner Matt Damon joined forces with RedBird Capital’s Gerry Cardinale to launch Artists Equity in 2022. Taking a dramatically new approach to talent/studio/distributor operations, this independent, artist-led studio has led several major film productions including the highly successful biographical sports drama Air, which detailed how Michael Jordan and a newly formed Nike basketball division came together to create the now-legendary Air Jordan.

Capitalizing on Ben Affleck’s well-known love of Dunkin’ Donuts, Artists Equity partnered with the venerable donut chain to create the “Dunkin’ Cinematic Universe” in 2023. This innovative campaign made a splashy debut at the Super Bowl LVII with an ad that featured Affleck serving real Dunkin’ Donut customers (including his wife, Jennifer Lopez) at a drive thru window.

The success of this commercial set the stage for many other beloved Dunkin’ Cinematic Universe spots featuring Ben Affleck as a man whose obsession with Dunkin’ is rivaled only by his obsession with himself. However, none of these ads has reached the heights of popularity that the DunKings now enjoy.

Released at this year’s Super Bowl, the DunKings ad instantly captured public attention and, even more impressively, has maintained extraordinarily relevance ever since. According to USA Today’s standard Ad Meter survey, viewers rated the DunkKings ad second among all this year’s highly impressive Super Bowl commercial offerings.

The DunKings ad takes the Dunkin’ Cinematic Universe in a ludicrous new direction as Ben Affleck assembles a middle-aged “boy” band to challenge his wife on her own professional ground as a pop star. Referencing the couple’s original 2023 Dunkin’ Donuts Super Bowl commercial, an agitated Affleck tells a concerned Jack Harlow, “Last year she came to my work, now I gotta show her what I can do!”

Determined to do just this, Affleck, Damon, NFL legend Tom Brady, and the rest of the DunKings bust unexpectedly into J. Lo’s recording studio and begin playing smooth jam with an infectious hook, Its lyrics repeat the song’s title: “Don’t Dunk Away at My Heart.” Beyond the distinctly 1980s vibe of this deliciously cheesy song, the DunKings leave a strong impression with their bright orange, Dunkin’-inspired tracksuits. But the masterminds at Artists Equity and Dunkin’ Donuts weren’t content with just a smash hit Super Bowl commercial, and its initial success is only the beginning of the DunKings story.

“The comprehensive strategy around this campaign is so much more than the 60 seconds of airtime you saw on Sunday,” says Paul Brown, Chief Executive Officer of Dunkin’ Donuts’ parent company Inspire. “Our team harnessed multiple channels and storylines to build momentum, generate buzz, and deepen connections to Dunkin’ — and it’s paying off.”

So what, exactly, does Brown mean when he says “multiple channels and storylines”? Well, first of all, there’s the song. A full version of “Don’t Dunk Away at My Heart” by the DunKings with vocals by Ben Affleck hit all the major digital music services with the following description: “The DunKings supply a sonic solution to soothe your hearts, minds, and ears. They’re gonna sing about love. They’re gonna sing about Dunkin’. And they’re gonna do it in a way that will have you putting their tracks on repeat for back-to-back to back listens while you sip and snack on Dunkin’.” Within a matter of days of the song’s release, tens of thousands of people had either streamed or downloaded the track.

While “Don’t Dunk Away at My Heart” is certainly an old-school banger, the most memorable aspect of the DunKings act has to be their matching stage outfits. Well, Dunkin’ Donuts also made these over-the-top orange tracksuits, complete with the DunKings name and crown logo, available to the general public. However, all DunKings merchandise sold out in less than 20 minutes: the track jacket, the track pants, and even the fuzzy bright pink bucket hat that one of the DunKings sported in the background of the beloved Super Bowl ad.

But the DunKings tie-ins don’t stop with music and clothing. Dunkin’ Donuts is offering Ben Affleck’s go-to coffee order as a special menu item under the name DunKings Iced Coffee. This classic iced coffee drink with vanilla overtones is mixed with cream and topped with sweet cold foam and a cinnamon/sugar dust. In terms of DunKings food items, Dunkin’ stores are selling Munchkin Skewers: three assorted Munchkins donut holes on a long stick. When placed in a coffee drink, a Munchkin Skewer resembles olives on a toothpick sticking out of a martini. Customers who choose to order through the official Dunkin’ app have access to three additional DunKings menu items: the Hazelnut Heartthrob Iced Coffee, the Mixed Berry Beats Dunkin’ Refresher, and the Everything Encore Breakfast Sandwich.

It is plain to see that the DunKings campaign was created with a carefree sense of wackiness and fun. But, from its outrageous fashion to its sweet beverages, each component of the campaign has tremendous strategic value when it comes to capturing and amplifying consumer attention.

“There’s no way to watch this campaign and its many outtakes, to try the DunKings Iced Coffee with the fun Munchkins Skewer, or to wear the pink and orange tracksuits without smiling” said Dunkin’ Donuts chief marketing officer Jill McVicar Nelson “That’s the genuine, lighthearted connection we want people to feel when they think about Dunkin’. You can chase your dreams, aim high and have a laugh while doing it, all as part of the Dunkin’ family. Dunkin’ fuels your passions, no matter how ambitious or out there they may seem.”

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