Sugarcoating the Shot

When my childhood sweet tooth took its toll so many years ago, I just about lived in the dentist’s chair getting cavities filled. Anesthetics weren’t as effective as what we have today so those drill sessions were miserable. The only upside was the shelf of free toys my dentist teased beforehand, “dangling the carrot” to get me to sit still. Now, starting Monday, Krispy Kreme is taking the same approach to entice COVID-19 vaccinations.

“Free doughnuts” – who doesn’t like the sound of that?  Even if you’re more of a Dunkin’ fan, the allure of anyone’s free doughnuts is undeniable.  As long as you show proof of a COVID-19 vaccination, you can get a free doughnut at Krispy Kreme every day for the remainder of 2021.  Heck, that’s enough incentive to permanently adjust the morning commute.  But not enough to get the vaccine.

I’m a huge fan of the Krispy Kreme “yeast doughnut”.  The original glazed version is light and airy and goes down so easy you could inhale a dozen in one sitting.  In fact, I’ve almost done just that.  My wife and I were driving to the airport with friends a few years ago, bound for Las Vegas.  We passed a Krispy Kreme store, checked our watches, and mad-dashed a U-turn so we could grab a few doughnuts for breakfast on the run.  “A few” amounted to two dozen and we had no problem finishing all of them on the rest of our drive.  That’s six doughnuts apiece and I didn’t even feel stuffed.

There’s the rub (or marketing genius) of the Krispy Kreme COVID-19 vaccination promotion.  There’s no way – I mean NO WAY you’re gonna walk into Krispy Kreme, get only a free doughnut, and walk out.  Nobody has that in their DNA.  Recall the Lay’s Potato Chip slogan: “Bet you can’t eat just one.”  The same applies to Krispy Kreme doughnuts in spades.  You don’t buy them by the “one” but rather by the dozen.

[Random thought: My mind just wandered to the midway at the county fair and those big games of ring toss.  Substitute doughnuts for the rings and syringes for the pegs.  Can you see it?  Yeah, probably not the best image for the Krispy Kreme promotion.]

If this story was about Voodoo Doughnuts or another baker whose creations are more akin to a large, filling dessert, maybe one free doughnut would be enough.  But at Krispy Kreme you’re going to get your free doughnut and promptly buy a dozen more.  It’s because you’re standing in the lobby and the slow-moving conveyor of hot, fresh doughnuts tempts you just beyond the glass.  You reach out for a touch or a taste but you can’t.  It’s how Krispy Kreme cajoles you into buying more of their product.

As for the vaccine enticement, Mary Poppins would certainly approve wouldn’t she?  Krispy Kreme should put her on their television commercials joyfully singing, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down…”.  Mary’d fit nicely into Krispy Kreme’s advertised “Be Sweet” initiative, designed to sell a lot of doughnuts but also, “…to inspire joy and kindness”.  Let’s hope hundreds and thousands of free doughnuts do just that.

Speaking of free doughnuts, whoever created this campaign must know what they’re doing or suffer the most awful form of job termination.  Here in Colorado, our vaccination rate hovers around 15.3% for a state population of 5.7 million people.  That means on Monday, Colorado Krispy Kreme stores could potentially see 872,000 customers demanding their free doughnuts.  And the day after that.  And the day after that.  Oh and – heh – Colorado only has TWO Krispy Kreme retail outlets in the entire state.  Traffic jams of epic proportions.

Now here’s the irony behind this Krispy Kreme headline.  For those who decide not to get the COVID-19 vaccine (and that would be me; don’t judge), we can still get a free glazed doughnut and a medium coffee at their stores on Mondays from March 29th to May 24th.  That’s nine free doughnuts and coffee for someone who didn’t even get the shot.  Does that inspire their intended “joy and kindness”?  You bet it does.

I only wish the nearest Krispy Kreme weren’t forty miles away.  Lucky for me there’s a new one under construction not fifteen minutes from my house.  They’re planning to open their doors at the end of December.  You know, just as their free doughnut promotion comes to a close.

Some content sourced from the CNN.com article, “Krispy Kreme is making vaccinations extra sweet…” and KrispyKreme.com.