Dunkin' exec: 'We are not Starbucks, we are not political'

Dunkin’ Brands (DNKN), the parent company of Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin Robbins, does not want to wade into politics. And in making that point, at a law conference in Boston on Monday, one of its executives appeared to take a shot at Starbucks.

“We are not Starbucks (SBUX), we aren’t political,” said Dunkin’ Brands VP of brand stewardship Drayton Martin on a lunch panel at the 2019 meeting of INTA, the International Trademark Association, according to multiple tweets from attendees. (The panel was not recorded, and INTA says it has no transcript.)

Martin said Dunkin has no interest in putting designs on its cups to start cultural conversations.

“We don't want to engage you in political conversation, we want to get you in and out of our store in seconds,” she said, according to tweets. Starbucks in the past has occasionally used its cup designs and baristas to attempt to start cultural conversations on issues like race.

Three Dunkin’ Brand executives were on the INTA lunch panel: Martin; director of legal counsel Alana Sharenow; and director of retail business development Chuck Kantner.

Martin added, according to another law professor in attendance, “We don't want people burning their Munchkin boxes.”

That sentiment is a reference to multiple instances, over the last two years, of consumers burning or destroying products—from Keurig machines to Nike socks—to protest the perceived political views of those brands.

Responses to Keurig after company pulls ads from Sean Hannity programs
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Responses to Keurig after company pulls ads from Sean Hannity programs

Keurig machine on display

(Photo by Sergi Alexander/Getty Images For SOBEWFF)

Join me & @AngeloJohnGage in the #KeurigSmashChallenge & learn how to crush your drives as a bonus.… https://t.co/gqgTtGdAx7
I pulled an "Office Space" with my Keurig... Would be a shame if everyone else joined me in the Keurig Smash Challe… https://t.co/Zx6awVodUq
Liberals are offended by this video of a Keurig being thrown off of a building. Please retweet to offend a Liberal… https://t.co/PxuRHS4BBv
@jimlibertarian Deplorables back @seanhannity 💯 @Keurig is junk anyway https://t.co/aHOT06pcm8
Look what I found #BoycottKeurig #Keurig https://t.co/P2BVRoxOjb
“How was your day?” “I destroyed my coffee maker because the company that made it stopped advertising on a show whe… https://t.co/JAZkNpg8ai
Destroying your Keurig because the company took a stand against pedophelia is a great idea. Caffeine is clearly clouding your judgement.
Folks, you don't actually need the Keurig Coffee Maker, though. You can get just as much coffee by squeezing the… https://t.co/yBLjvacTyD
Don’t #BoycottKeurig, they pulled their ads from Hannity & deserve to be celebrated for it. @Keurig
@JasonOverstreet @Keurig @seanhannity An open letter to Keurig bashers: YOU CANT BOYCOTT SOMETHING YOU’VE ALREADY BOUGHT! 🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️🤦🏽‍♀️
Sorry, I was off Twitter for a while - it appears that people are destroying coffee machines to show their support of child molesters?
Great coffee, great guys and great Americans @seanhannity I’ve had the chance to meet and hang out with them. Try i… https://t.co/PyPDy6FXs1
Psst, @Keurig, you don’t have to apologize for “taking sides” when one of the sides is pro-pedophilia.
Don’t #BoycottKeurig, they pulled their ads from Hannity & deserve to be celebrated for it. @Keurig
.@Keurig wants to play politics and pull ads from @SeanHannity over fake news! Call their customer care at 866-901… https://t.co/sFrRLB3pzH

In a country that is increasingly divided politically, consumer-facing brands are finding themselves drawn into political debates, even at times when they have tried to avoid commenting on such issues. It has happened to Tic Tac, Tiki Brand torchesPapa John’s pizza, and Under Armour, to name just a few.

Of course, even in saying that it does not wish to be political, and in accusing Starbucks of being political, some see Drayton Martin’s comment as being just as political. Twitter users, in replies to tweets about Martin’s comment, pointed out the irony.

Dunkin’ Brands did not immediately respond to a request for further comment from Yahoo Finance on Monday afternoon.

Disclosure: One of the law professors at the INTA meeting who tweeted about the Dunkin’ executive’s comments is the author’s sister.

Daniel Roberts is a senior writer at Yahoo Finance who closely covers food and coffee. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

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