Dunkin’ Donuts set out to prove that America really does run on Dunkin’, as it served up coffee, comfort and cheer to runners and spectators at the New York City Marathon. For the seventh year, Dunkin’ Donuts was an official, and highly visible, race sponsor, setting up cheering hubs and refueling stations at locations along the course.
Beginning at 1:00 a.m. on race day, Dunkin’ started brewing 12,000 gallons of hot coffee in the marathon’s Start Village to energize the runners. In addition to providing a caffeine jolt, a key component of Dunkin’s presence was the branded fleece beanies distributed to runners at the start of the race, a prized souvenir of the marathon. Some 17,000 runners received and wore the hats in the 26.2-mile, cold-weather race. The colors of the hat – pink and orange – left no doubt what the sponsoring brand was.
“This is the fifth year we’ve distributed our fleece hats at the ING New York City Marathon,” says Cathy Chavenet, Dunkin’ Brands’ senior field marketing manager, Metro New York. While the design has varied slightly over the years, the brand’s signature colors never change.
Given the chilly temperatures during the race, the hats proved to be practical and stylish accessories. “It’s a wonderful takeaway for those attending the event, and you see people during the winter months wearing the hats all throughout the New York tri-state area,” Chavenet says.
Dunkin’ Donuts considers the coffee and hats it distributes to be a significant part of the marathon – and a great opportunity to connect with customers. “Our presence at the starting line with the complimentary coffee for runners and volunteers, as well as the fleece hats, drives brand awareness among a key audience,” Chavenet says.
The hats are exclusive to the New York City Marathon and were only available on race day, making them a sought-after commodity. Some lucky race spectators were also able to receive the free caps to keep them warm on the sidelines at 14 Dunkin’ “refuel” stations along the route, while supplies lasted.
Dunkin’ also set up a station where tens of thousands of fans could create special signs to cheer on runners as they crossed into Manhattan. In addition, Dunkin’ partnered with the New York Mets to bring their brand mascots to this location to join in the festivities. A long line of fans waited to have pictures taken with the mascots, creating even more brand loyalty. The cheer station was designed to be a fun way to engage with fans as they made signs for family and friends.
“I can’t think of a more appropriate slogan for the New York City Marathon than ‘America Runs on Dunkin’,” says Chavenet, adding, “Dunkin’ coffee and baked goods keeps our guests running every day, and the marathon is the premier running event in the United States.”
Team Dunkin – a running group consisting of several franchisees and employees – participated in the race for a seventh year as well, sporting the branded gear, of course. The team represented “everyday, hardworking people doing something extraordinary,” Chavenet says.