Marketplace Scratch Pad

Creative marketing

Scott Jagow Jun 18, 2009

I just happened to stumble across these two things today, and they both have the common element of being strange, true and controversial. Dunkin’ Donuts has hired street musicians to promote the message: For the change you’re giving street performers, you could eat breakfast at Dunkin’. Meanwhile, a North Carolina company is using race to sell furniture.

Here’s a link to the Dunkin’ story from the New York Post:

“Dunkin’ Donuts is trying to reinforce the value proposition that money you would normally throw away to a musician you could use to get a cup of coffee or a doughnut,” said Matt Britton, CEO of Mr. Youth, a marketing company.

Bud Good, 30, who was strumming his guitar with partner Chris Wease on West 44th Street yesterday, said performing for Dunkin’ Donuts was a little unsettling.

“At first, I was worried someone I know would see me doing this,” said Good, who put in a five-hour shift. “But really I’m just out here playing what I want to play, and the songs I would be playing anyway.”

Dunkin’ is paying musicians $20 an hour. I haven’t heard of any response from the street musicians union, but I’m guessing there’s a rift and cries of “sell outs!” Then again, Dunkin’ coffee is damn good. Especially with lots of cream.

Meanwhile, a High Point, North Carolina furniture company has become a big hit on YouTube with this commercial. It’s a rare combination of catchy jingle + bad local TV + social commentary.

The guys singing in the ad are the producers who came up with the concept. Here’s what they said about it:

“It doesn’t promote hatred or intolerance, rather it’s the very opposite. This commercial promotes inclusion and reconciliation, if not in a comical way. And to point out the obvious the irony in this video is that it’s completely ridiculous for people to relate furniture to their race. People of all colors are welcome at the Red House, which is something we take for granted in the year 2009. But there was a time in the not so distant past during which things as simple as a water fountain were not for everybody.”

Simone Orendain, a reporter friend of mine at the NPR station in Charlotte (WFAE), did a story about the ad. She tells me people from all over the world have been calling this company because of it. The store now sells t-shirts, mugs and koozies with the words and images from the commercial.

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