Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts Compete for Engagement on National Coffee Day

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On national food and beverage holidays, brands look to communicate with fans over social media to celebrate their products. On September 29, people woke up with a cup of joe while reading countless social media posts recognizing National Coffee Day. America’s two largest coffee giants, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, utilized different strategies and platforms.


Coffee in your tumbler, Starbucks on Tumblr. Starbucks partnered with Tumblr to alter the social media platform’s logo– changing the period to a steaming cup of coffee– to celebrate National Coffee Day. Hovering over the coffee cup unveiled a random, cute comment about coffee which also promoted the hashtag #atstarbucks- the name of Starbucks’ Tumblr. By clicking the coffee icon, people could find coffee related posts and blogs.

starbucks tumblr screenshot

Starbucks’ official hashtag unites posts that give “a look at the place where we come together, and the good things that happen when we do.” The Starbucks Tumblr shares photos of the chain, coffee quotes, and Starbucks-themed art. Furthermore, the submit button asks people to share photos, videos, or text about “experiences you share when you get together #atStarbucks.” Starbucks’ desire to be a community of coffee fans, rather than simply a food and beverage brand, translates through all of their marketing and communications campaigns.


Starbucks also revealed the “Meet me at Starbucks” film, which was filmed in 26 countries in one day and uploaded on YouTube for the holiday. The six minute video explored the touching moments that occur at Starbucks at any given moment across the globe. While Twitter and Facebook complimented these promotions, Tumblr and YouTube drove the primary social media efforts.


In contrast to Starbucks solely digital campaign, Dunkin’ Donuts offered free medium hot and iced dark roast coffee for the holiday. Dunkin’ Donuts received positive feedback, with people tweeting thanks or sharing a picture of their free drink on Instagram. Additionally, Sony supported Dunkin’ Donuts with an impressive stop motion Vine. Finally, Dunkin’ Donuts revealed their “DDance for Dark Roast” social media contest. Dunkin’ Donuts invites people to upload a video of them dancing to “Clap Your Hands” by Richey Lam on Twitter, Instagram, Vine or Facebook using the hashtag #DDanceForDarkRoast. Ten winners will receive free Dark Roast coffees for a year, while the grand prize includes an additional $5,000 reward.



However, social media contests are tricky for a few reasons. The biggest concern rests in Dunkin’ Donuts statement that all entries with the official hashtag will be automatically uploaded to the website. Hopefully a team will monitor the website to ensure that inappropriate or offensive videos will be immediately taken down so they do not appear to be endorsed by the brand. Dunkin’ Donuts also explains that entries must come from public profiles which could limit entries, however it is necessary for contacting the winner; which brings another concern– contacting winners. It may be difficult to contact winners by these social media platforms, as opposed to email or phone. Nevertheless, the October 12 deadlines gives people plenty of time to submit a creative video (which makes up 25% of the judging criteria).

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Which coffee company do you think had the best social media presence on National Coffee Day? How have other companies tied a national holiday to their social media efforts? And finally- where did you celebrate National Coffee Day?

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