Ben Affleck’s Dunkin’ Ad Riffs Off Sad Grammys Meme

Ben Affleck’s brand ambassadorship for Dunkin’ leveled up during Sunday’s 2024 Grammys with the debut of the star’s latest spot for the coffee and donut shop chain launching an apparent campaign in which the actor follows in his wife’s footsteps to become a pop star.

The ad, which also features social media star Charli D’Amelio, comes a year after the famous Sad Affleck meme emerged at the 2023 Grammys; the viral moment came when the show’s broadcast caught the actor’s despondent and distant expression as wife Jennifer Lopez danced joyfully next to him.

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“Keep laughing,” the actor now says in Sunday night’s spot, as he’s watching a news report about that Grammys moment. ”’He’s bored.’ No — he’s studying, always watching. I can do that. How hard can it be?” Then, in a rapid-fire montage, the 30-second spot shows Affleck in a recording studio, debuting some questionable beats to a producer, and taking a dance lesson from social media star D’Amelio.

“Who is TikTok?” he asks D’Amelio in the thick Boston accent he’s adopted for his persona in the campaign. The spot ends with a “to be continued…” tease, suggesting this Affleck alter-ego plotline will be seen in more Dunkin’ ads to come.

(D’Amelio had failed to recognize Ben during a Vanity Fair lie detector test last year.)

Affleck and the brand’s partnership was born out of memes that emerged online in the years before 2023’s viral Grammys moment, as the internet went bananas over several images of the Dunkin’-loving star spotted by paparazzi holding the brand’s coffee or food items, as he appeared to be holding the world’s weight on his shoulders.  

Playing off those viral paparazzi shots, Affleck’s first Dunkin’ ad, which included Lopez, saw him running a drive-thru at a Massachusetts location, launched during the 2023 Super Bowl. A few months later, he appeared in a spot wherein he’s mistaken for his Good Will Hunting writing partner, Matt Damon. In September, an ad for the chain that was seen during the MTV Video Music Awards saw the Argo filmmaker and rapper Ice Spice discuss a collaboration.

The new ad was developed by Artists Equity, the production house Affleck launched with Damon. The star recently spoke with People about working on the ads.

“I think people already sort of think that I work for Dunkin’,” he told the magazine. “I think I became kind of associated with it, and this sounded like a fun opportunity to kind of play with that association, and a chance to come back here to shoot it at home in Boston.”

Affleck also opened up about his viral 2023 Grammys experience at the time in a THR cover story, saying he at first didn’t know he was on camera.

“I had a good time at the Grammys. My wife was going, and I thought, ‘Well, there’ll be good music. It might be fun.’ At movie award shows, it’s speeches and, like, sound-mixing webinars. But I thought this would be fun,” he said. “I saw [Grammy host Trevor Noah approach] and I was like, ‘Oh, God.’ They were framing us in this shot, but I didn’t know they were rolling. I leaned into her and I was like, ‘As soon they start rolling, I’m going to slide away from you and leave you sitting next to Trevor.’ She goes, ‘You better fucking not leave.’ That’s a husband-and-wife thing.”

He then continued, “I mean, some of it is, I’m like, ‘All right, who is this act?’ Like, I don’t keep up. My wife does, obviously. And yeah, it is your wife’s work event. And I’ve gone to events and been pissed off. I’ve gone and been bored. I’ve gone to award shows and been drunk, a bunch. Nobody ever once said I’m drunk. [But at the Grammys] they were like, ‘He’s drunk.’ And I thought, that’s interesting. That raises a whole other thing about whether or not it’s wise to acknowledge addiction because there’s a lot of compassion, but there is still a tremendous stigma, which is often quite inhibiting. I do think it disincentivizes people from making their lives better.”

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