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Two Advertising Tips You Can Learn from a Shortbread Cookies

I took a meeting this morning with a guy who clearly had a hankering for some pastries.  I am not one to turn down food, so I joined him at Dunkin' Donuts.  While we were in line I was hit by inspiration.  It came in the form of a shortbread cookie.  Shortbread cookies are great because they make such a nice complement—tea, coffee, milk, you name it.  However, Dunkin' Donuts clearly saw in the shortbread cookie potential that I had not yet seen.  In fact, I would like to share two advertising tips that you can learn from the Dunkin' Donuts shortbread cookie.

Never Miss an Advertising Opportunity

This first tip was so incredibly self-evident I just had to point it out.  (Yes, I see the irony in that statement.)  Take a look at this cookie though.  Are you looking at a cookie or an advertisement?  BOTH!  Their cookie has their logo on it—their cookie.  Mind you that these cookies were sitting on the counter as a push product.  If you see them, you are already in the store.  You are already in the process of purchasing something.  Branding at this point isn't the issue ... or is it?

Let's be honest.  Cookies sell themselves.  Dunkin' Donuts, the Girl Scouts and the Keebler Elves are just the distributor.  If you are ordering anything—anything—no one has to say, "Would you like a cookie with that?"  All you have to do is see a cookie, and you will think, "I would like a cookie with this."  That is a fact of life.

Now for the advertising application.  You take your brand and you slap it on what people already naturally, instinctively (almost insatiably want) and you have a tremendous brand association on your hands.  This might seem like the company that puts their logo on everything (like trashcans), but really this is strategic genius.  I did not buy that shortbread cookie, but I've been thinking about cookies the rest of the day, and the cookies that are in my head have the Dunkin' Donuts logo on them.  Genius!

Take Advantage of Every Market Obstacle

What comes to mind when you hear the name Dunkin' Donuts?  The answer should be doughnuts, but it probably isn't.  It is probably coffee.  Coffee?  How did that happen?  Look again at that shortbread cookie.  It's not in the shape of a doughnut; it's in the shape of a coffee cup.  I did a Google Image search of Dunkin Doughnuts advertisements.  Coffee was featured in eight of the first 10 results.  Doughnuts were only featured in three.  There were more ads that featured coffee exclusively than there were ads that feature doughnuts at all!  Why?

Once upon a time, bakeries could cause traffic jams with a Hot Doughnuts sign.  Mouths would wander, meetings would be canceled and police cars would show up out of nowhere.  Somewhere along the way, carbohydrate became a four letter word (carb) and suddenly the doughy goodness stop being a delicious indulgence and became an artery-clogging killer.  The doughnut businesses as a whole (pardon the pun) had an enormous obstacle.

What did Dunkin' Donuts do? —The company that had doughnut in it's name?

Coffee has always been the great supporter of the DD doughnut.  In the 1950's and 1960's, a coffee mug was even in the logo.  However, in the 1980's (the graphic design dark ages) the logo simply became the name, and the coffee was put on the back burner (both literally and metaphorically).  They knew when it was "time to make the doughnuts" but not "time to put on the coffee."  However, once the Count of Monte Carbo began to reign supreme, the bakery went back to its roots and put their coffee front and center.  It officially rejoined the logo in 2002.

This, again, is a great marketing strategy.  The company didn't have to change who they were, what they did or even how the looked.  They just told the story their audience was needing to hear.

Stay Awake

Next time you see a shortbread cookie remember to never miss an opportunity to brand yourself and to take advantage of every marketing obstacle.  To do this, you have to stay awake!  You have to be on the lookout for these opportunities and obstacles.  For that, you just might need a cup of coffee ... or a doughnut.