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From Hometown Hero to Franchise Partner — 3 Celebrities Collaborating With Their Hometown Brands From Dunkin' and Ben Affleck to Jersey Mike's with Danny DeVito and Whataburger partnering with Patrick Mahomes, explore how these celebrity endorsements connect with communities and elevate brand recognition.

By Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Key Takeaways

  • Celebrities can significantly influence a brand's identity and perception.
  • Aligning a brand with celebrities who share a hometown connection can greatly amplify the brand's authenticity and relatability.
  • These partnerships illustrate how the right celebrity collaboration can enhance a brand's identity.
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The collaboration between businesses and celebrities is far from new, with brands having long joined forces with notable figures and athletes (think Michael Jordan and Nike). Regardless of whether the business is a corporate giant or a local franchise, leveraging celebrity status can significantly enhance brand recognition and drive sales.

What adds an extra layer of significance to such partnerships is when brands align with celebrities hailing from the same locale where the business originated. This hometown connection can work wonders in crafting a relatable and authentic brand identity.

Check out a few examples of these hometown hero collaborations below. We'll explore how they make the brands stand out, connect with customers, and become part of the community's fabric.

Related: Considering franchise ownership? Get started now and take this quiz to find your personalized list of franchises that match your lifestyle, interests and budget.

Dunkin' and Ben Affleck

In 1948, Bill Rosenberg launched a local coffee haven in Quincy, Massachusetts, naming it The Open Kettle. Just two years later, he rebranded it as Dunkin' Donuts, and by 1955, it had grown into a full-fledged franchise. With more than 100 locations by 1965, Dunkin' Donuts became an iconic part of American culture.

Today, under the simplified moniker Dunkin', these coffee shops span the globe while still embracing their New England heritage. And what better way to reinforce that connection than through a partnership with actor Ben Affleck, a proud Cambridge, Massachusetts native?

In a salute to his hometown roots, Ben Affleck has starred in numerous Dunkin' commercials. This collaboration isn't just about boosting Dunkin's appeal, especially among the 50-year-old demographic; it's also about having a top-tier actor endorse their products. And Dunkin' hit a home run with their latest Super Bowl ad, featuring Affleck alongside fellow Boston icons Matt Damon and Tom Brady, further cementing their bond with their New England origins.

Related: Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez Get Help From 'The DunKings' — Tom Brady and Matt Damon — in Dunkin's Super Bowl Ad. Watch It Here.

Jersey Mike's and Danny DeVito

The 'Jersey' in Jersey Mike's pays tribute to its New Jersey roots, where the franchise first sprouted its submarine sandwiches. Established in 1956 as Mike's Subs in Point Pleasant, New Jersey, the eatery rode the wave of sandwich popularity in the 1950s, thriving on its prime location near the Jersey Shore during the bustling summer months.

What distinguished Mike's Subs was its commitment to personalized service and community charm. When teenager Pete Cancro caught wind of the owners considering selling the shop in 1971, he took matters into his own hands, securing a loan to become its owner. In 1987, to honor its origins, he rebranded the establishment as Jersey Mike's Subs, preserving its authentic Jersey flavor.

Fast forward to 2023, and Jersey Mike's was on the lookout for its first celebrity partner. Enter Danny DeVito. The renowned actor from "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" had deep ties to the original Mike's Subs locale, having grown up nearby. His meticulous attention to detail and strong work ethic perfectly complemented Jersey Mike's brand values, making him an ideal celebrity partner.

Related: The Secret to Jersey Mike's Increasing Popularity? Danny DeVito and the Special Olympics Are Only Half of It.

Whataburger and Patrick Mahomes

Harmon Dobson's vision for Whataburger began in Corpus Christi, Texas, with a simple yet memorable concept — a burger so big and delicious it took two hands to hold. Today, Whataburger boasts over 800 locations across the country, primarily in the southern states. Recently, the brand made headlines by teaming up with Super Bowl-winning quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes, the star quarterback for the Kansas City Chiefs, isn't just bringing his football prowess to the partnership; he's also set to introduce around 30 Whataburger locations to Missouri and Kansas. This move isn't just about expanding the franchise — it's about leveraging Mahomes' star power to boost brand recognition in new territories.

With Mahomes' Texas roots and his college football days at Texas Tech, his association with Whataburger adds an authentic touch. By bringing Whataburger to Kansas City, Mahomes is not only investing in a business opportunity but also bringing a piece of his beloved Texas to his new home. This alignment between celebrity endorsement and brand expansion not only strengthens Whataburger's presence but also resonates with Mahomes' fans, creating a win-win situation for both parties involved.

Clarissa Buch Zilberman

Entrepreneur Staff

Freelance Writer, Editor & Content Marketing Consultant

Clarissa Buch Zilberman is a writer and editor based in Miami. Specializing in lifestyle, business, and travel, her work has appeared in Food & Wine, Realtor.com, Travel + Leisure, and Bon Appétit, among other print and digital titles. Through her content marketing consultancy, By Clarissa, she leverages her extensive editorial background and unique industry insights to support enterprise organizations and global creative agencies with their B2B, B2C, and B2E content initiatives. 

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