Dunkin’ Donuts opened its business in Thailand in 1981. Currently it operates almost 130 outlets, serving more than 300,000 customers a week.
The difference between a Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant in the US compared to Thailand is that in Thailand, Dunkin’ Donuts’s marketing strategy characterizes an image of a conscious organization who cares for society and honors the family tradition, contrary to US culture. A Thai Dunkin’ Donuts restaurant tends to be a meeting place where people come with their family and friends to relax and socialize.
In the summer of 1999, Dunkin’ Donuts ran a 5-week promotional campaign centered on, and coincided it with, national mother’s day. One of their goals was to increase sales but also increase brand loyalty among its Thailand target consumers, teenagers and young adults. The goal of the campaign with the slogan ‘‘Longest Love Message to Moms’’ was an invitation to Thais to come to the stores and pen a love note to their mothers on a special banner (1).
An ACNielsen survey also found that Dunkin’ Donuts was perceived as a ‘‘caring corporate citizen, dedicated to the Thai- land market and its people.’’ (2).
As we can see, this is an example on how culture influences marketing campaigns and communications. Dunkin’ Donuts understood the Thai people’s culture and targeted accordingly.
This global campaign was a success compared with the previous year when Thailand’s Dunkin’ Donuts was receiving a harsh criticism from U.S and other western countries over its controversial advertisement campaign that features blackface makeup.
What Global Marketers have to realize is that in examples such as this racism does not exist. The controversy found in this ad comes from a Western point of view.
Even if we find the ad with a black face offensive, it is not offensive for Thai culture and its people, in that color discrimination based on black and white does not exist in Thailand. Perhaps, the differentiation is more about shadeism (also known as colorism) is a form of discrimination based on skin variations within the same race tide to class. Example: The darkest tone you would find in Thailand is darker brown, which implies lower income or education (even when this is not true–that is the perception), but it is never black. In other words, this campaign is perfectly acceptable and in fact very cool since total black color has not racial connotation to the Siamese. It is simply a way to match the color of the donut– It could be pink or green, it won’t matter. We view it as a racist problem, but they don’t. It was not accidental as some said, neither on purpose. It is a completely different culture with different background and history.
- ‘‘Thais Sweet on Mom, ‘Love’ Campaign,’’ Marketing News (September 11, 2000), pp.6–7.
- “Doing Well by Doing Good” Nielen (June 2014).