Ever had a donut blended into your coffee? Rapper Ice Spice apparently thinks it’s a great idea. Dunkin’ just debuted its Ice Spice Munchkins drink as the latest addition to its fall lineup. And the coffee giant put a big marketing push behind the product.
Also this week, several chains debuted celebrity partnerships and burger concepts gear up to celebrate National Cheeseburger Day.
Here’s what’s new in the world of restaurant marketing.
Donuts in coffee
Dunkin’s latest drink is frozen coffee blended with pumpkin Munchkins and finished with whipped cream and a caramel drizzle. This marks the first time the brand's signature Munchkins have made it into a beverage, bringing something unique to the crowded pumpkin spice arena.
“Pumpkin spice season has gotten a bit predictable lately, so we sought help from our friends Ben Affleck and Ice Spice to create a new pumpkin obsession that only Dunkin’ can offer,” Jill McVicar Nelson, chief marketing officer at Dunkin’, said in a statement.
The brand introduced the drink via a commercial that premiered during the 2023 MTV Video Music Awards. The commercial features rap artist Ice Spice and actor and filmmaker Ben Affleck collaborating on the drink during a brainstorming session, in which Ice Spice points out her fans are called the “Munchkins.” The ad was created by Ben Affleck’s studio Artists Equity, which has teamed up with Dunkin’ in the past.
“I’ve always been a Dunkin’ girl,” Ice Spice said in a statement. “Collaborating with Dunkin’ and Ben Affleck on this spot was a dream. The drink has a fun twist, a little something in the name for my fans, too.”
Coffee chains have been pushing their array of fall flavors lately. Last week, for instance, Starbucks launched a weekly buy-one-get-one offer on its fall lineup.
More celebrity partnerships
Sweetgreen also recently teamed up with a celebrity. The salad chain partnered with Gen Z singer and actress Renee Rapp on its latest marketing push, featuring Rapp’s go-to order. The Renee Rapp Bowl contains cucumber, red onion and red cabbage on top of spring mix with tomatoes and spicy broccoli. The bowl is then topped with a scoop of roasted tofu, finished with cilantro and dressed in Sweetgreen’s Spicy Cashew Dressing. Diners can order the bowl online or on Sweetgreen’s mobile app until Oct. 23.
Sweetgreen is also hosting a “Meet and Greens” Sweepstakes in which four fans will win concert tickets to see Rapp perform; they'll also receive meet-and-greet passes and $100 in Sweetgreen credit. No purchase is necessary to enter the giveaway.
In addition, Miller’s Ale House has joined forces with with model Kendall Jenner on three new menu items featuring her 818 Tequila brand.
The new items are Kenny’s Espresso Martini, Kenny’s Watermelon Margarita and Kenny’s Barbecue Sauce. The sauce, which is offered on the chains Zingers or wings, is infused with tequila and made with spicy Korean chili paste, sweet Thai chili and honey.
Moving to a different sort of trio, Friendly’s has teamed up with the Jonas Brothers on three new sundaes created by the brothers themselves.
The Joe Sundae features mint chocolate chip, chocolate chip cookie dough and chocolate ice cream topped with hot fudge, crushed Oreos, M&M’s, Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, whipped cream and cherries.
Nick’s sundae includes vanilla fat-free frozen yogurt, Reese’s Pieces, bananas and a drizzle of peanut butter sauce, topped with whipped cream.
Meanwhile, Kevin’s sundae features chocolate, butter crunch and forbidden chocolate ice cream topped with caramel, hot fudge and whipped cream.
“We’ve been hooked on Friendly’s since we were little,” said Kevin Jonas in a statement. “Friendly’s has always been a favorite stop of ours … a memorable place where we bonded as brothers over ice cream and delicious food. Fun fact: We decided on the band's name at our local Friendly’s back in 2005, while chowing down on Monster Mash sundaes.”
National Cheeseburger Day
Some burger chains are using this day to promote their products and offer limited-time deals and rewards. Burger King, for instance, is kicking off a weeks’ worth of deals starting with National Cheeseburger Day on Sept. 18. On that day, the burger giant will give away free cheeseburgers with any purchase of $1 or more. Then, on Sept. 19, it's offering a free Whopper Jr with a $1 purchase, and a day later, diners can score a Whopper for just $3.
Similarly, Wendy’s is menuing a one-cent Bacon Cheeseburger with any purchase from Sept. 18-22, and Applebee’s is offering a deal on its Classic Handcrafted Burgers on Sept. 18 in which diners can score any of the brand's three burgers with fries for just $8.99.
Krystal will sell its cheese sliders for $1 in honor of the day, and BurgerFi is offering a $3 double cheeseburger with the purchase of a Freestyle beverage.
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