Dunkin’ offers drive-thru weddings for Valentine’s Day

Dive Brief:

  • Dunkin’ is promoting its seasonal menu for Valentine’s Day with an experiential campaign that includes a chance for couples to get married or renew their vows in a drive-thru lane. The bakery chain also plans to open a wedding-themed online pop-up shop, per an announcement.
  • Dunkin’s “Marriage is on the Menu” contest was inspired by a Dunkin’ employee who last fall got married at the drive-thru where she first met her husband. To enter, New York state residents need to submit a photo on Instagram with the #DunkinIDoContest hashtag in the caption, along with an explanation of why they want to marry in a Dunkin’ drive-thru. The contest deadline is Jan. 30, and a winner will be selected on Feb. 2.
  • In a sign that experiential marketing is once again ramping up — just with social distancing measures built in — Dunkin’ will host the wedding on Feb. 12 at a location in Middletown, New York, where other couples also can visit from 3-4 p.m. for a drive-thru vow renewal or commitment ceremony conducted by I Do Drive Thru, a drive-up wedding service. Dunkin’s online store with wedding-themed merchandise will be available on Feb. 11.

Dive Insight:

This year’s Valentine’s Day will be the first one during the pandemic, challenging marketers to come up with campaigns that promote togetherness while also urging people to practice social distancing. Dunkin’s wedding-themed promotion reflects ongoing interest from the brand in the romantic holiday despite the pandemic and the recognition that its marketing must reflect the needs of consumers, who indicate the health crisis is forcing them to adjust how they celebrate on Feb. 14. Dunkin’s campaign builds on increasing interest in drive-thru weddings during the pandemic, and it also nods to the interest in weddings at quick-service restaurants that was in place before the pandemic, as evidenced by the wedding package that Taco Bell previously offered that let couples get hitched at its flagship restaurant in Las Vegas.

More than half (56%) of U.S. consumers plan on altering their Valentine’s Day plans due to COVID-19, per survey results that research technology platform Lucid shared with Marketing Dive. Its study also found that 82% of U.S. consumers plan to celebrate Valentine’s Day at home this year. The survey results suggest consumers will respond to Valentine’s Day promotions that are mindful of personal safety, which Dunkin’s drive-thru promotion attempts to address.

Dunkin’s Valentine’s Day campaign is also another sign of how quick-service restaurants are ramping up their experiential campaigns after a year of dormancy. Burger chain White Castle this month said it would switch up a long-running Valentine’s Day event that lets people book a romantic dinner given COVID-19 concerns. With restrictions on indoor dining, the chain will transform about 300 of its locations into “classic drive-ins, complete with carhop service.”

The usual jump in consumer spending that coincides with Valentine’s Day is expected to take place again this year and Dunkin’s pop-up store could help the brand meet consumer demand. Many retailers reported strong results during the holidays, which typically foretell of spending patterns going into Valentine’s Day. Some consumers may see the romantic holiday as an opportunity to celebrate those they are closest to at a time when most people’s social circles have shrunk significantly.

Dunkin’s pop-up store follows other efforts to promote branded merchandise in giveaways and direct sales amid the growth in e-commerce during the pandemic. The company in November offered to re-release a limited number of Dunkin’ Onesies if the brand reached 2 million followers on social video app TikTok. Dunkin’ also has collaborated with sportswear maker Saucony on a line of clothing to celebrate the Boston Marathon, expanding on a more limited offering of running shoes it had offered earlier.

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