Monday, March 9, 2009

Leaving a Bad Taste in My Mouth

Maybe it's just me, but negative advertising is a real turn-off. (On second thought, maybe it's not just me. One only needs to look at the tail-end of the most recent presidential election campaign as an example of exactly how many of us were turned off by negativity.) And really, if there's anything we need a little less of during these Depression-era days of free-falling Dows and skyrocketing unemployment rates, it's negativity.

The advertising campaign of which I speak is of Dunkin' Donuts, which is my breakfast provider of choice. As regular readers of The B&B Chronicles know, I have a hell of a commute to work. (1.5 hours each way, on a good day.) I also have a pesky thyroid, which means that upon waking and taking my lovely thyroid meds, I need to wait an hour before eating. So, I get in the car sometime between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m., and by the time I'm within five minutes of my office, 90 minutes has passed and I'm driving by a Dunkin' Donuts ... where I stop, every morning, for a Combo #6. That would be a Veggie Egg White Flatbread (for my cholesterol levels), a large French Vanilla coffee with skim and Splenda, and hash browns (because I'm ravenous at that point and need to eat something, anything.)

The drive-thru cashier and I are on a first-name basis - she greeting me every morning with "Hey, Lady!" She's a very pleasant person, very quick, always accurate with my order and even slips in some innocuous chit chat about the weather, a necklace I'm wearing, whatever.

During the last few days, my Drive-Thru Lady has been MIA. At the same time, I noticed that the other workers have sported brown, pink and orange shirts emblazoned with on the back. I'd heard of the blind taste test where more people chose DD over SB, so I didn't think much of it. Till this morning.

I pull up to the drive through and place my order. A minute goes by. Three. Then five more. Then 10. I finally pull up to the window and the cashier - not Drive Thru Lady - slides open the window, hand extended for my cash. Another two or three minutes goes by before my food arrives. They apologize. I say it's fine. (I've learned, in my old age, that it is pointless to go nuts over this stuff. Life's too short.)

And then, I notice that the substitute drive-thru lady's shirt has Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Starbucks on the front of it. Now, I happen to patronize Starbucks, too. (Betty and Boo's Mommy needs her coffee.) Whatever, I thought, just grateful to have my breakfast before I started gnawing on my steering wheel.

I bite into my hash browns - they're lukewarm. I take a sip of my coffee and something - the French Vanilla or the Splenda - was amiss. And then, I'm at my desk and I unwrap my Veggie Egg White and it is cold, unheated, not the toasty flatbread as pictured. I promptly threw it away and grabbed a handful of M&Ms.

And then I thought back to the and the Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Starbucks marketing campaign, and I realized why that campaign was resonating flatter than a piece of flatbread with me. I think it really does have something to do with the negative climate in general lately. I mean, we're talking coffee ... I don't know about you, but I'm usually reaching for my Dunkin' Donuts coffee when I've got maximum stress going on. I've travelled through two states, I'm late for work, I need my second tank of gas in a week (and it's Tuesday). I don't need nor do I want any additional negative vibes when I'm trying to de-compress with my coffee (yes, I know, I'm one of those weird wolves that caffeine can either hype up or calm down, depending on the need. And you wonder why I'm addicted.)

So here's what I, Little Miss Public Relations, say about negative advertising. If you're going to go negative, Dunkin', then you better make damn sure that you can live up to the mirage of superiority. Because if you're going to make the claim that Friends Don't Let Friends Drink Starbucks, then there's no room for you to screw up my coffee. There's no room for error; it needs to be right 110% of the time. (As Boo said tonight, "Nothing can be right 110% of the time." My point.)

Because even though I may be Friends with my Dunkin' Donuts pals, I would have loved for them to have given me a Starbucks today.


Niksmom said...

When I lived in Manhattan, I loved DD (can't stand the awful "bodega brew" at all th elocal dives). The ones here in Dover...suck. Bad coffee, bad service. Ick. Gotta have my Wawa!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I'm all for negative ads though. I love it when companies fight each other. Mac vs. PC, etc. It usually means the consumer can get something. In your case, they have some nerve screwing up your order at the same time they are battling Starbucks. And especially you, a great customer. I take a different approach on bad service, which would not surprise you. I love screaming like a nut at these $5 an hour cashiers. I raise hell whenever I'm cheated or my food doesn't come out right. Makes me feel better and sometimes they comp my meal. If I were you I would demand to speak to the DD district manager.

Florinda said...

There are NO Dunkin' Donuts in the greater Los Angeles area, and the last time I lived anywhere that had them, I wasn't a coffee drinker yet. (My DC-dwelling son swears by them, though.) We have started seeing some of their commercials lately, so I hope that means they're coming.

Just wanted to commiserate with you on the commute - 40 miles each way, average time 1 hour and 15 minutes. I REALLY appreciate the days I get to work from home, but they don't happen nearly often enough.

Betty and Boo's Mommy said...

Niksmom - Yes, Wawa is definitely the best. Now if only they were drive-thru Wawas ...

freebird9911 - Ah yes. Your distain of bad service is legendary. But, I still hold to my statement that life is too short (and so am I).

Florinda - NO Dunkin' Donuts????!!! I had no idea there weren't any in greater LA. Wow. Hopefully you'll get them soon.

To all - it's so funny to me how popular this post was. (I got a few private emails too.) The ones I think are good get no comments (ahem) and the ones that I write half-asleep get a bunch. :)

Anonymous said...

Me, too, me too.
(the ones I think are good get no comments)

Even if you wrote it half asleep, though, it was pretty good (except, I, of course, saw negativity on Both sides of the election campaign) but really, it is so true that the mudslingers are usually just trying to cover up their own shortcomings.

Booklogged said...

Great post. I agree about all the negativity. It does us no good.

Speaking of ads - I HATE, absolutely HATE the Arby's ads lately.

Dem Mom said...

The thing about negative ads... they work. Everybody claims to hate them, but they work in elections, they work for products. Just a fact. BUT you're totally right, that if you're going to go negative, you better be able to back it up. And you should definitely say something to DD. You don't have to go nuts, just tell them that you're a loyal customer, and they have set themselves a bar, and they're falling short. I don't stop for coffee anywhere, because I set it up the night before and start drinking it before I even get in the shower. But I do know that some Starbucks have drive throughs, so tell them you can take your business elsewhere!