Clash of the Coffees

White coffee mug on table with white tablecloth
Image: Madison Inouye via Pexels

On the morning of September 29th, coffee addicts had a very important choice to make: where would they celebrate National Coffee Day? Starbucks or Dunkin’? Dunkin’ or Starbucks? It’s a choice as old as time, and each company planned a different strategy to celebrate their national holiday.

While Starbucks and Dunkin’ both posted celebratory content on their Instagram pages, their strategies varied. With Starbucks at 18.4 million followers on Instagram and Dunkin’ with only 2.1 million followers, different approaches were needed to engage their audiences.

Dunkin’ clearly put forth more effort than Starbucks to promote National Coffee Day. Not only did they begin promotion two days in advance, but also they even renamed the day “National Dunkin’ Day.” Big talk, right?

Well, they didn’t stop there.

Next, they rolled out a post promoting #NationalDunkinDay Swag! This was a bold move for the brand to claim this day as their own. There were 10 celebratory posts ranging in the form of relatable memes to user-generated content and cartoons. Dunkin’s promotion also spanned from bright and early in the morning to acceptable hours for a night run. It was clear that Dunkin’ did not come to play on National Coffee Day; they came to win.

In comparison, Starbucks played it cool. With only one celebratory Instagram post, it seemed that the company had enough confidence in their customer base to have a more subtle promotion of the national holiday. Alongside the four-slide graphic post, Starbucks encouraged their followers to share what coffee meant to them.

The strategy to have a simple call to action, for the audience to reflect on why they love Starbucks, resulted in lots of user engagement. This was their way of stepping back and letting their customer base run the show, a move that demonstrated this day was theirs, not the brand’s.

Both Dunkin’ and Starbucks brought their A-game to celebrate National Coffee Day. Although their efforts differed, each had an effective strategy, which made strategic communication the winner in this clash. When planning strategic communications plans for your clients or Chapters, be sure to keep your audience and brand voice in mind. By staying authentic to your brand, you will be able to drive genuine engagement and set yourself apart from competitors.

Rachel Ornstein HeadshotRachel Ornstein is a junior at the University of Delaware majoring in communication with a concentration in public relations and minors in advertising and journalism. She is the president of her PRSSA Chapter and is a social media and marketing intern at the university’s Career Center. In her free time, you can find her listening to Ariana Grande’s music or catching up on YouTube. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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