Accidentally Capitalizing on Controversy: Dunkin’ Donuts Holiday Cups

Image courtesy of Dunkin' Donuts Instagram

Image credit: Dunkin’ Donuts, Instagram

Article by Brittany Carpenter | esPResso Editor

Coffee seems to be causing quite a stir this holiday season. Following the launch of their new minimalist holiday cup design, Starbucks has been the center of media backlash. Religious groups around the world seem to be offended by Starbucks’ lack of imagery on their new cups, declaring the cups to be a “War on Christmas” (read more about Starbucks response here).

Dunkin’ Donuts has hit the jackpot in terms of luck. Shortly after the Starbucks controversy plaguing social media, Dunkin’ revealed its new holiday themed cups. Some believed this to be a direct attack against Starbucks, however in an email to Fortune, Dunkin’ confirmed that their cups were designed several months ago.

In a statement to NBC, Dunkin’ Donuts said, “For many years Dunkin’ Donuts has served coffee in festive cups featuring the word ‘joy’ as part of our annual celebration of the season and holiday offerings. We believe this conveys the happiness and spirit of the holiday season in a way that resonates with our guests.”

Whether or not this was intentional following the Starbucks controversy, Dunkin’ seems to be reaping the benefits of positive publicity! While the cups in no way overtly say “Merry Christmas”, the pine needle wreath and the word “joy” written on the cup evoke the Christmas spirit in those put-off by the Starbucks red cups. People have taken to Twitter praising Dunkin’ for their design, while denouncing Starbucks, the coffee chain’s number one competitor.

This goes to show that a crisis/controversy for one company can sometimes result in positive PR for another. Dunkin’ has remained professional throughout the whole ordeal, avoiding to comment on the Starbucks cup design. It will be interesting to see in Dunkin’s next earnings report if this situation will impact them financially.


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