Dunkin’ Donuts Runs Its First Google+ Hangout for Top Chef Initiative

Brand continues social experimentation

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Few brands this year have been as sweetly into social-media marketing as Dunkin’ Donuts, which has been particularly active on Twitter and Vine. Now enter Google+ Hangouts, as the fast-food retailer tomorrow will run its first event on the live video chat platform as part of its campaign with Bravo’s Top Chef.

In an effort spearheaded by the company’s agency, Hill Holliday, Dunkin Donuts’ 38,000 Google+ followers and other digital passers-by will be able to watch the brand’s executive chef Stan Frankenthaler reveal the winners to a contest that debuted Nov. 20. Dangling a $1,000 grand prize carrot (or in this case, cruller), the contest encouraged consumers to submit a photo of a recipe with the hashtag #DDTopChef via either Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or Pinterest. A healthy stream of ideas poured in from around the nation, per Dunkin' Donuts, but the retailer didn't disclose a specific number.

Frankenthaler will showcase the triumphant entries in the quick-serve company’s test kitchen, while the chef interacts with consumers via Hangout. “We think the chat will be truly fun, allowing people to ask questions and see—in real time—what takes place in our test kitchen,” explained John Costello, Dunkin’ Donuts president, global marketing and innovation.

Dunkin’ Donuts, which made waves in September by running the first TV spot comprised of a single Vine video, thinks it has found a winning social-media formula. And as this effort clearly exemplifies (Google+, Instagram, Twitter, etc.), the strategy involves a little bit of everything.

“We know that our fans are busy people who are engaging through multiple channels, often simultaneously, and we want to provide as much value to them—in terms of fun activities, answers to their questions and more,” Costello said.

Meanwhile, Dunkin Donuts recently revamped stores nationwide with 1,500 digital menu boards, replacing static signage. Costello suggested the move was emblematic of his brand’s goal of connecting the proverbial dots in terms of broadcast, digital, in-store and mobile marketing.

“Unlike many other brands, ‘traditional’ marketing is still very effective for us, so we’re not abandoning it,” he added. “Social promotions will also continue to be an important part of our overall marketing efforts now and in the future. In 2013, there has been so much innovation within the social/mobile space with channels like Google+, Instagram and Vine, and we’re excited to see what the next 12 months will bring in terms of new engagement opportunities.”

@Chris_Heine Christopher Heine is a New York-based editor and writer.