Love Stories, Swiftie Friendship Bracelets, and Coffee How Dunkin Dominated the Super Bowl

Love Stories, Swiftie Friendship Bracelets, and Coffee: How Dunkin Dominated the Super Bowl

If the prophets had declared a coffee chain as the Super Bowl champion in 2024, true Dunkin fans wouldn’t have been surprised. Their unwavering loyalty to Dunkin’ would have made such a prediction seem reasonable, even prophetic.

From that seeming paradox and the applause following it, marketers everywhere are drawing inspiration (mingled with a sprinkling of jealousy). The charm of Dunkin Super Bowl stardom serves as a lesson in content creation.

Dunkin and the Super Bowl: A Match Made in Content Heaven

Dunkin Donuts celebrates phenomenal success from its Super Bowl advertising for the DunKings Iced Coffee product. However, the brand achieved Super Bowl audience influence even before the event and the airtime of the DunKings ad itself.

Dunkin’ Donuts cultivated a connection with the fanbases of Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez. Affleck and Lopez appeared in Dunkin’ advertisements leading up to the Super Bowl event. These prior Dunkin’ ads were referenced in the Super Bowl commercial itself. In the commercial, Affleck says, “Last year she (Lopez) came to my work. Now I gotta show her what I can do!” This line plays on the earlier ads and the couple’s real-life relationship.

Likewise, Dunkin made strong connections with the fanbase of Taylor Swift, who has become part of the culture surrounding the Super Bowl through her relationship with star Chiefs player Travis Kelce. Dunkin has plugged into the Swift fanbase, or “Swifties,” as they affectionately call each other, through a partnership with Little Words that created Taylor Swift concert-inspired friendship bracelets for National Coffee Day late in 2023.

Ad Success: The Super Bowl and Dunkin 

For Dunkin, the build-up paid off. The DunKings ad was called a “masterclass” in advertising by CNBC news commentators. Promoting the ad, like a movie with a teaser trailer, a scheduled release, and a star-studded cast, was described as a stroke of genius.

The news commentators discussed the choice of release strategy, which involved a teaser trailer followed by a commercial and a Spotify track. They explained how this strategy was highly effective in building hype for the product. The release tactics magnetized the ad’s success, providing an ecosystem conducive to enduringly memorable success.

The Dunkin DunKings Commercial

The DunKings commercial tapped into the relationships specially formed around good coffee by featuring famous faces resurfacing in pop culture throughout the 2000s and 2010s and into the 2020s.

The commercial features Ben Affleck starring as Boston Guy as he prepares to showcase what he can do with rap at his wife’s recording studio. He’s joined by famous football player Tom Brady and his legendary actor best friend Matt Damon, with whom he created the classic film “Good Will Hunting.”

While Affleck’s character is excited to showcase the jingle rap they have made for his wife, Jennifer Lopez, his friends, especially Damon, are completely mortified. They proceed to burst into the studio, dressed all in orange Dunkin tracksuits featuring the theme of the music video they seek to drop.

Affleck enthusiastically delivers his “Don’t Dunk Away With My Heart” rap, which also appears on popular music streaming platform Spotify. Damon, however, delivers the rap with humiliation and frequent apologies. It’s a cringe-fest undercut by Boston Guy’s inflated confidence and severed short with a hilarious rejection. Damon’s humiliation in the aftermath is rebuked with Affleck’s iconic line: “Chill. They’re naming a drink after us.”

Tapping Into a Bigger Culture

At the same time, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez appeared in DunKing’s commercial; Lopez released an album called “This Is Me Now.” She explained it was a creation 20 years in the making. Out of the project, Lopez noted that she had never made a more honest record reflecting on her journey as a person. The project sprouted up an album, an Amazon original musical movie, and a documentary. She has announced that a tour is coming soon.

The DunKings Super Bowl commercial tapped into the bigger culture of Lopez’s music by featuring her in a studio setting preparing her album.

A Long Game of Narrative Building

Dunkin’s 2024 Super Bowl success was not a shot in the dark but the culmination of years of solid collaborations and content. Dunkin’s ads over the past two Super Bowl seasons have acted like cinematic product placement rather than selling points, gracefully inserting Dunkin merchandise and menu items into an overworld of hilarious antics and ordinary characters going to extraordinary lengths to hype their favorite Dunkin drink and pastry combo.

A Year of Worldbuilding

Dunkin’s debut of Affleck’s “Don’t Dunk Away at My Heart” jingle had built on the recurring narrative of Affleck’s Dunkin appearances. Previous installments of Affleck’s Dunkin journey story showed him struggling at a drive-thru taking orders at the Medford, Massachusetts, Dunkin location and engaging with pop star Ice Spice in previous ads that featured Munchkin’s, a popular pasty treat on the Dunkin’s menu.

The Little Words Collab

When Travis Kelce, a star football player for the Super Bowl team, started dating Taylor Swift, it changed the whole dynamic of fame for the Kelce brothers football players and their families. Taylor Swift is among the most beloved pop stars of all time, and young fans of the NFL beloved Kelce brothers.

Dunkin’s World Coffee Day collaboration with Little Words was the perfect time to boost its Super Bowl power. Travis Kelce made Swift a “friendship bracelet,” too. The web caught fire when Kelce was quoted famously telling the media how he meant for T-Swift to receive a bracelet he had made with his phone number, having gone to one of her Eras shows. While Kelce received loads of bracelets from other Swifties, at first, he didn’t get the chance to give Swift her bracelet.

To compete is Kelce’s nature, so he reached out again, inviting him to one of his games. It worked out that the people in Taylor Swift’s personal life were willing to become matchmakers, as her little cousins were die-hard Kelce fans, and the meet-up happened.

Easter Eggs

Fans of Taylor Swift were not soon to forget about this encounter, following every little Easter egg and sign from their pop idol. Swifties started turning out in mass to NFL games to catch a glimpse of the singer, and the Kelce brothers were swept up in a “whole new level” of fame, as Jason Kelce described it. Having exchanged friendship bracelets with Swifties and even Taylor herself, Travis Kelce is now part of the culture of Swiftie concerts.

Dunkin and Little Words may not have intentionally set out to play the long game of winning Super Bowl hearts. They launched their collaboration of bracelet merch to “bring joy,” Little Words noted. The brand wanted coffeegoers to be able to show off their bracelet stack and their coffee choices on Instagram stories. They hoped to give their audience, primarily made up of young girl Swifties, a way to build their morning Dunkin run into the culture they already celebrated with their friends.

Lessons for Content Marketers

Looking at the “masterclass” in advertising from Dunkin’s long-game success with the Super Bowl can also give content marketers new fuel to boost their campaigns. Content writers always look for new ways to engage their readership. Dunkin highlighted some tried and true marketing secrets and new approaches that content creators can try.

Tell (Love) Stories

Fans of the best brands in the world have plugged into the story of their favorite product, whether coffee, friendship bracelets, or something more complex like technology. While not every brand story will center around the love stories of football champions, pop queens, and movie stars, every brand has a story to tell.

Bringing in characters and pop culture references is a great way to relate to the audience and introduce a product or service into the natural flow of their life rather than try to sell them.

Show Personal Growth

J-Lo made a daring move when she bent genres to launch “This Is Me Now.” Her most personal music to date has been called by viewers “cinematic eye candy.” The reception of the music from J-Lo’s longtime fans and new ones showcases the deep connection a social influencer or brand can make with their audience through vulnerability and personalization.

Content marketers can learn from this because it helps overcome the challenge of content influx they face. Often, content writers get feedback that tells them to write for the search engine. The challenge? Meeting the demands of SEO but not sounding like robots. There is such a flow of writing advice that writers often use a formulaic approach to avoid making mistakes.

A special mention of J-Lo’s “This is Me Now” drop is worth noting for writers studying the entire content sphere of Dunkin’s marketing success ecosystem. Writers can see that switching up the baked-in formula of bulleted reference summaries and statistics quotes, daring to speak from a place of personal growth, has a unique power.

The Long Game

While SEO is still naturally important, adding a personal approach can make a lasting impact and ripple effect in other spheres of influence. Dunkin’s association with Jennifer Lopez’s love story exemplifies this ripple effect and how long games of narrative building tend to coexist and influence each other over time. For the beloved J-Lo, the album reflected on life that spanned two decades.

For Dunkin, including the two star-crossed lovers brought back together around the same time Dunkin’s first collaborations with them began, is a nod to a long-running social understanding. Dunkin prides itself as the coffee brand that fuels America, and with its devotion to American pop culture, the Dunkin brand is telling America: “You are seen.”

To content creators, this subtle nod can transcend coffee and generations of pop idol obsession and nest gracefully in other marketing narratives. Whether you’re telling the story of two superstars, their love and their love for coffee or the story of how you built the world’s leading logistics software, your audience must feel seen.

Explore Humor

One of the many ways Dunkin managed massive Super Bowl success was its decision to use humor well. The DunKing’s teaser trailer, extended cuts, and TV spot all used a healthy mix of humor to bond with the audience emotionally. Where it makes sense, content marketers can appeal to the lighter-hearted side of things and expect good results.

Plug Into Culture (and Subculture)

Dunkin’s building success came from its cultural awareness when releasing promotions and corresponding content. Content marketers can learn from this by having an ear to the wall and listening to the tune of popular culture. By having that awareness, Dunkin could tap into culture repeatedly, finding a way to relate to Swifites, fans of J-Lo, fans of Ben Affleck and Matt Damon, and the greater audiences and cultures that collide within their audiences.

Building a Content Ecosystem

Attention economy” can be an epic struggle content marketers face in significantly impacting the said economy of short-lived impressions. With the average attention of the modern content consumer now ranging minus eight seconds, less than that of a Goldfish, it can feel like one of Hercules’ labors to grab audience engagements (and Google ranking clicks) from the DoomScroll Freeway.

However, Dunkin took a detour through all that traffic by taking familiar back roads and building an ecosystem that drew on years of content from others in its surrounding neighborhood.

The lesson is simple: to really grab attention, a content writer in today’s attention economy needs to condition their content with research its ability to thrive in the broader sphere of influence before releasing it into the wild. This “ecosystem” will be the habitat where content will grow engagements. It needs to be a healthy influence sphere to thrive in.

For example, Dunkin lived in an ecosystem of similar content because it resonated with audiences invested in the story of “Bennifer” and the indirectly related content that belongs to that sphere of interest. Likewise, Dunkin was cohabiting with the ecosystem of the Swiftie fan base when it released Little Words at the beginning of football season and thrived in the same environment as the new pop migration to NFL stadiums that came with Swift’s presence.

Content Writing Takeaways From This Dunkin Moment

Overall, Dunkin’s many successes linked directly to the smash hit that was DunKing’s Super Bowl ad and to associated appearances serve as a testimony to the power of good content creation. By flowing naturally in the jet stream of popular media, Dunkin’s has managed to ride the waves like an agile surfer, guiding its content along the crest of social feeds, TV spots, and X thread chatter into viewers’ full attention.

Content writers can apply both the long and short techniques that led to Dunkin’s Super Bowl ads win to their writing to create new reader dynamics and boost the evergreen value of article engagement.

About the Author

Rachel BrooksRachel writes a variety of business articles and website copy on topics such as technology, computer software, marketing, advertising, and more. To learn more about Rachel or to have her write for your brand, sign up for nDash today!