Dunkin' Courts Younger Customers With Another Odd Celebrity Pairing By teaming Ben Affleck and TikTok star Charli D'Amelio, Dunkin' continues to tap into a younger demographic, illustrating a savvy blend of cross-generational appeal.

By Carl Stoffers

Key Takeaways

  • Dunkin's approach to leveraging high-profile partnerships has significantly enhanced its brand presence.
  • Dunkin's marketing campaigns are not just creatively appealing but also data-driven.
  • By poking fun at Affleck's "Sad Affleck" memes, Dunkin' demonstrates its brand's ability to stay in the cultural conversation.
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Fresh off its Ben Affleck-as-an-inept-Dunkin'-worker commercial during last year's Super Bowl, which generated seven billion impressions, and his pairing with rapper Ice Spice, which helped the brand hold steady at #6 in our 2024 Franchise 500, Dunkin' is once again teaming Affleck with a young celebrity, TikTok's Charli D'Amelio. The 19-year-old is the second-most-followed person — with about 151 million followers — on the 900-million-user platform.

Affleck is a notorious Dunkin' fan, but D'Amelio is no stranger to the brand, either. In 2023, Dunkin' named a drink after her and partnered with her to host an event.

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Related: West Coast, Get Ready — Dunkin' Is Coming, and It's Bringing 'Insta-Ready' Gen Z Drinks With It

"Who is TikTok?"

Dunkin's new commercial, "Popstar," follows Affleck as he watches the news identify him as "The Boredest Man in the World" and sips a Dunkin' beverage. The ad, broadcast during the 2024 Grammys, pokes fun at the actor's demeanor at the previous year's Grammy Awards. Affleck's less-than-enthusiastic facial expressions while attending the 2023 ceremony with his wife, Jennifer Lopez, became the subject of widespread "Sad Affleck" memes on social media.

In a thick Boston accent, he makes calls to music industry people while pacing and carrying a box of donuts. "I even have a persona, like J-Lo or B-Lo," he says. Cut to Affleck in a recording studio, handing a CD to an engineer, who replies, "A CD?" The music is terrible, and we next see Affleck pitching some costumes in a Dunkin'-themed room, which even features a large painting of one of Affleck's legendary overloaded Dunkin' runs. After she shows him some dance moves, Affleck asks a baffled D'Amelio, "Who is TikTok?"

The ad wraps with Affleck donning an oversized donut necklace while he voices over, "They told you you're no good; you're a goofy, middle-aged, clumsy white guy with no rhythm, and you can't sing on key. You're not coordinated. That means I can't be a popstar?" Before warning: "Underestimate Boston...at your peril." A "To be continued" cliffhanger follows, as Affleck solemnly says, "This is me now."

Related: Dunkin' Dives Into the Boozy Beverage Market With Spoked Iced Coffees and Teas

Marketing strategy

The pairing of Affleck, who appeals to an older crowd, and D'Amelio, 19, is a deliberate mismatch. Following the successful Super Bowl ad, the company noticed something in the analytics: The commercial resonated strongly with the 50-year-old demographic but less with younger people. So Dunkin' did something radical last fall when the time came to promote another product — teaming Affleck with Gen Z rapper Ice Spice to highlight its Ice Spice Munchkins Drink.

The odd-couple pairing resonated widely. Dunkin' president Scott Murphy says it helped Dunkin' generate more than 70 billion total media impressions in 2023, three times as many as in 2022. "The brand is just in the conversation," Murphy says. "Whether it's Saturday Night Live or on the nighttime talk shows or in music or social media, it just really feels in the fabric of things now."

Carl Stoffers

Entrepreneur Staff

Senior Business Editor

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