Dunkin’ CMO departs after 9 months

    • Dunkin’ Chief Marketing Officer Rafael Acevedo has left the company to pursue other opportunities, Ad Age first reported. A representative for Inspire Brands, the restaurant chain’s parent, confirmed the news to Marketing Dive.
    • Acevedo joined Dunkin’ last June, filling a spot that had been vacant since Tony Weisman departed in late 2019. A veteran of Coca-Cola, Acevedo oversaw changes to Dunkin’s marketing roster, appointing Anomaly as its creative agency of record in November after years of working with BBDO Worldwide.
    • Acevedo handled a range of other activities at Dunkin’, including brand marketing and advertising, product innovation and digital initiatives, that now have a void in leadership. However, CMO turnover is hardly uncommon among restaurant marketers that are trying to keep pace with fast-moving consumer and technology trends.

    Dunkin’ spent nearly two years searching for a CMO to fill the large shoes left by Tony Weisman and is now on the hunt yet again for a leader who can guide the brand during a period when dining habits are evolving quickly. While Acevedo’s tenure was brief even by the famously short-lived standards of the C-suite appointment, it could carry a lasting impact. The news of his departure was shared in an internal letter to franchisees from Dunkin’ President Scott Murphy last week, a portion of which was provided to Marketing Dive.

    “Rafael Acevedo will be stepping down as Chief Marketing Officer to pursue other opportunities. I am working closely with Raf and my leadership team on a clear transition plan to ensure we continue the strong momentum we are seeing in the business,” Murphy wrote. “Please join me in thanking Raf for his contributions during his time at Dunkin’, including onboarding a new world-class ad agency, Anomaly, and helping to refine our brand’s purpose and promise. We wish him well in his future endeavors.”

    The decision to drop BBDO, which Dunkin’ had worked with since 2018, in favor of Anomaly signals a potentially substantial shift in creative thinking. Anomaly has been tasked with modernizing the company’s “America Runs on Dunkin'” ethos without straying from its heritage.

    Other quick-service restaurants are pursuing a similar path. KFC parted ways with longtime marketing chief Andrea Zahumensky last year, tapping Nintendo’s Nick Chavez as a replacement. The Yum Brands fried-chicken chain later named MullenLowe as its strategic and creative lead agency of record, ending a yearslong — and creatively fruitful — relationship with Wieden + Kennedy. Burger King U.S. last month also put its creative and media accounts into review. David, the incumbent creative shop, has developed numerous highly decorated campaigns for the Whopper marketer.

    KFC and Dunkin’ serve as examples of marketers looking outside their category for a fresh perspective. Restaurants are under pressure to reinvent their businesses to recognize digital and mobile ordering tools that have become enshrined for many consumers during the pandemic. At the same time, there’s an onus to appear tapped into broader cultural discussions as an aversion to traditional ad-supported channels grows. In naming Anomaly as creative AOR last fall, Acevedo called out the shops’ “strong connection with culture.”

    Weisman, Acevedo’s predecessor, spearheaded initiatives that continue to inform Dunkin’s direction. He helped lead an effort to drop “Donuts” from the company name to emphasize a more diverse menu, along with making bigger bets on digital and mobile capabilities. Dunkin’ in September opened its first digital-only store that ditches the dining room and focuses on orders placed online, mobile channels or through digital kiosks.

    Dunkin’s media is handled by a bespoke unit within Publicis Groupe that oversees the Inspire portfolio, which additionally includes Arby’s, Baskin-Robbins, Buffalo Wild Wings, Jimmy John’s and Sonic Drive-In. The Inspired Media Engine launched in February 2021.


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