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Dunkin Donuts: A Multisensory Marketing Campaign

A clever (or invasive?) way to grab their customer’s attention

Photo by StockSnap from Pixabay

When you think about Dunkin’ Donuts, does coffee come to mind?

I would assume it doesn’t, but it should be.

At least that’s what the brand wants to instill in their customers. They want you to continue thinking about donuts but now add coffee to it. Just like the picture above.

But how can they reposition their brand so that people start going to their stores to get their morning coffee?

What they did in Seoul with their “Flavor Radio” campaign will make you both amazed…and concerned.

You’ll soon see why.

Seoul: The Land of Coffee

Some say that the capital of Korea is nicknamed the land of coffee, and rightly so.

This beverage has become one of the most popular commodities in the country, having around 49,600 coffee shops throughout the nation, of which 17,000 are in the main city. Just to put matters into perspective, New York has around 3,300 coffee shops.

Now that’s what I call an obsession with coffee.

Clearly, Dunkin’ Donuts wanted a piece of the pie but there are were many other kids in the block claiming territory for themselves, so they had to come up with a way to lure people into going to their store and not just for a donut.

Their plan was creative but also a little bit manipulative.

Bombarding People With Stimuli

Since the majority of people go to work using public transportation, the brand thought of targeting workers during their early morning coffee routine.

Before people got out of the bus, Dunkin’ Donuts told them through the transport’s radio to look for them on their way out.

But here’s the catch.

Everything revolved around the design of people’s trajectory to work. They used three senses strategically placed in their path, to lure them into their store: sound, smell, and sight.


First, they created a short jingle followed by a brief dialogue:

Woman: “I got coffee for you, too, honey!”

Man: “Wow! Where did you get this? It smells delicious!”

Woman: “At the Dunkin’ right here!”

Announcer: “Dunkin’s coffee is waiting for you right at your stop.”

Dunkin’ Donuts scent machine


Screenshot from the making of the ad from Youtube


Next, they designed a scent spray device that released the aroma of coffee every time the ad appeared on the radio.

The sounds of the jingle at the beginning of the radio ad triggered the release of the scent.

They installed these devices in a bunch of buses and whenever the bus was approaching a bus stop that had a nearby Dunkin’ Donut store, the ad was released to the unsuspecting passengers.


And finally, when they got off the bus, the bus stop had a visual ad telling them where the nearest Dunkin’ Donut was. They were literally guiding people into the store.

Can it get more invasive than that?

But it worked.

More than 350,00 people experienced the ad during the campaign. Visitors increased by 16% and sales at stores throughout the bus routes grew by 29%.

People were encouraged (or might I say almost forced) to choose coffee at Dunkin’ Donut and more people now think of this brand when they think of their morning coffee.


So did you twitch a little with this kind of marketing technique?

I certainly did.

By combining multiple stimuli and presenting them in a particular order, people were being conditioned to respond in a certain way.

The musical jingle triggered a coffee scent that led towards a visual ad which in turn seduced them into the store for some good old coffee.

You might know this process as classical conditioning, an associating of two unrelated stimuli to induce the same response even if they’re presented separately afterward.

This can lead to a strong bond between different events and it can stick in people’s minds for quite a while.

With this kind of creativity and promising results, multisensory marketing has a bright future ahead. Marketers are exploring new ways to hook their audiences and they might keep the “Flavor Radio” campaign in mind for future references.

Next time you go on a bus you might get a pleasant surprise.

By Pavle Marinkovic on .

Are you curious about the world of sound and music? Learn how music can enhance a plant’s growth, the way sound changes our sense of taste, understand the music industry, and much more! Join my newsletter to embark on this journey of sound awareness.

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