Starbucks positions itself as a provider of coffee for the upscale connoisseur, while Dunkin' Donuts roasts joe for the Average Jane.
Yet despite their differences, the country's two coffee biggies are looking more similar than ever this holiday as they battle over the $10 billion premium coffee business.
Each has fancy drinks loaded with sugar and holiday coffee flavors including peppermint and gingerbread.
Each has gift options such as custom gift cards.
And this year, each has TV ads.
This is the first time Starbucks sbux has gone to the airwaves with a national campaign, an animated series by agency Wieden & Kennedy that encourages folks to "spread the cheer."
"They're charming and poignant," says Brad Stevens, vice president of marketing. "We wanted to create that emotional connection with the customer and associate Starbucks with a positive feeling."
Starbucks ads also are designed to be calm and soothing, a contrast to the peppy energy from Dunkin's spokeswoman: fast-talking food celebrity Rachael Ray.
"What separates us from other experiences is the extra care we take to create an all-encompassing experience for your coffee moment," Stevens says.
His company starts with a big advantage: Starbucks has 10,684 U.S. locations, more than twice as many as Dunkin', which has 5,200.
But Dunkin' is certain that its ads with Ray appeal to a broad audience.
"We're for the people who lead very busy lives, with places to go and things to get done," says Frances Allen, brand marketing officer for Dunkin' Donuts.
She adds, "Our customers are not really there to sit and relax and read a newspaper and spend an hour over latte."