McDonald’s recently launched Donut Sticks to its breakfast menu, eliciting some Twitter sass from Dunkin. Talkwalker measured social engagement with both brands and determined that influencer marketing had a significant role in the conversation.
In 2017, McDonald’s placed a higher priority on long-term growth which included the retention of existing customers. Part of this strategy, the company said in its annual report, was to focus on breakfast.
Lo and behold, the quick-service restaurant giant introduced donut fries in February—fried strips of dough packaged similarly to French fries. But as Dunkin pointed out, the new product was eerily similar to its own, limited-edition donut fries last summer.
Dunkin fired back with an illustration of Dunkin-branded packages made to look like the cardboard boxes used for a Big Mac.
“What a coincidence,” the Dunkin Twitter account joked, “McDonald’s just released donut fries and we just released blueprints to our new donut packaging.”
Talkwalker took a look at the buzz surrounding each donut fries launch to determine which brand was leading the conversation.
Dunkin’s Donut Fries launched its donut fries after a pre-run in Boston last year. The topic generated cumulated 25,900 mentions and a strong 708,000 engagements in the last 13 months, Talkwalker observed.
Despite only having launched a month ago, McDonald’s Donut Fries grossed 9,900 mentions but 306,200 engagements, “thus still staying behind’s Dunkin’s social media storm.”
A comparison of the two launch strategies found that Dunkin relied heavily on influencer marketing to gain social traction on National Fry Day (July 13). A sponsored post by food and fashion influencer Rebecca Azamolo garnered 104,778 shares/likes. Social influencer Nia Sioux, meanwhile, earned 74,138 likes posing with the fries and Miranda Sings made a music video calling donut fries one of the best pregnancy cravings. The post has earned 93,478 likes to date.
Talkwalker attributes part of Dunkin’s social success to its photogenic pink packaging. McDonald’s is serving its donut sticks in relatively plain white bags.
That’s not to say that McDonald’s isn’t getting any traction on the new menu item. Influencer Trysha Paytas filmed herself trying the donut fries and garnered over 1.1 million views. Make-up artist Jeffree Star posted a photo of the treat on Twitter, earning over 43,000 likes.
Since their launch, however, McDonald’s has slowed its promotional efforts. As of this writing, the brand has not replied to Dunkin’s joke tweet, either.
“There are many takeaways, one of them being the importance of timing: these products are relatively similar, but the #NationalFryDay boost might have given Dunkin the winning advantage,” Talkwalker CEO Todd Grossman told AList. “Dunkin also managed to transform this new McDonald’s launch into one more opportunity to get their name out there through clever tweets, and ultimately remind their audience that they ‘own the Donut Castle’.”