Dunkin' Donuts Looks for Lift From Wireless Ads

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Dunkin' Donuts will use an elevator pitch through wireless Internet advertising to target a captive business audience in 69 buildings in New York, Boston, Chicago and Stamford, CT.

Starting this week in a deal struck with Captivate Network Inc., the Randolph, MA, coffee and donuts chain will use a series of two 10-second video ads in elevators to introduce its new Dunkacinno creamy mocha drink and encourage sales of coffee by the pound.

"It's wireless Internet technology," said Eric Zitron, vice president of advertising sales at Captivate, Westford, MA. "Basically it's a power-sourcing antenna, and we send messages specifically to individual buildings."

The technology offers advertisers the luxury of quick and targeted messages that can be customized down to the building level. This was one of the key attractions for Dunkin' Donuts.

"Because they have so many locations, it's targeting a person who can immediately respond to [Dunkin' Donuts] retail locations downtown," Zitron said.

"But it's also providing that person with the knowledge that, on his way to work, that this very same new product is also available. So it's branding with the extension."

The elevator spot also is being used to launch Dunkacinno, which is positioned as an afternoon beverage.

But that doesn't ignore Dunkin' Donuts' core business. The ad is expected to spur coffee sales, particularly with an eye on the upcoming holiday season.

"What we're hoping to achieve from it is that the people in these business-office elevators will see the opportunity to buy," said Shannon Maxwell, field marketing manager at Dunkin' Donuts. "We have a special coffee by the pound offer going on, and they'll be able to buy 1 pound as a gift perhaps for their office and take 1 pound home. So we're really pushing a 2-pound deal on the elevator ... and you can get it locally at one of the Dunkin' Donuts shops or online at dunkindonuts.com."

Created by Red Leaf Inc., the ads will air on flat-panel screens every 15 minutes, running 84 times in rotation with other brand advertising for 21 hours each day.

The effort runs through December in conjunction with traditional media pushes, such as TV, print, in-store and radio. Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos, Boston, bought media.

Located above the floor-numbers panel, the top two-thirds of the high-resolution LCD screen will feature news and weather from CNN, The New York Times, Chicago Tribune, The Boston Globe, Reuters and The Weather Channel. The bottom third will have the Dunkin' Donuts ad as well as ads from other advertisers.

Captivate has signed contracts with almost 500 office towers in downtown areas of New York, Boston, Stamford, Houston, Dallas, San Francisco, Chicago and Los Angeles. Only 80 buildings currently have the LCD screens, however.

Visitors, counted by Captivate as 10 percent of a building's traffic, add to the exposure. Visitors are expected to enter and exit only once, however.

In total, the 69 buildings running the Dunkin' Donuts ad will deliver 38.5 million elevator riders each month, according to Captivate.

The profile of the building occupants and visitors should match with the typical Dunkin' Donuts patron, who is a general consumer and cuts across demographic lines.

"We head into interesting challenges here as to whether or not we would say a typical business executive is a classic Dunkin' Donuts consumer," Zitron said.

Although the rate was not disclosed, Dunkin' Donuts will pay Captivate for weekday exposure.

"It's charged basically based on the size of the building, which equates to the actual number of tenants, and we then price it up based on the tenants themselves," he said. "[So] we would charge on a total number of individuals, not only those that work in the building, but also a certain percentage that would visit the building."

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