Off Brand

Krispy Kreme Found a Way to Make Vaccine FOMO Even Worse

Brands rush in to help end the pandemic with vaccine doughnuts and other marketing stunts

Rob Walker
Marker
Published in
3 min readMar 23, 2021

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A promotional graphic with a partially eaten Krispy Kreme doughnut above a Covid-19 vaccination card, next to the text “Show your Vaccination Card, get a FREE Original Glaze Doughnut”
Photo: Krispy Kreme/Business Wire

Skeptical about the Covid-19 vaccine? Or too lazy to get jabbed even though you’re eligible? Well perhaps you can be persuaded by… free doughnuts. This is apparently the thinking behind a new promotion from Krispy Kreme: Present your vaccination card at its U.S. locations, the Wall Street Journal reports, and you’ll get a glazed doughnut on the house.

The Journal suggests this may mark a new phase in brands’ attempts to find the right pandemic-era tone. The time for caution and concern is fading into a mixture of optimism and cajolery — get your shots, consumers, so we can all get back to shopping and dining and gathering in malls and theaters. And since this sort of persuasion-based promotion involves public health (doughnuts notwithstanding), it comes with a certain halo effect.

It also comes with risks. It’s possible that anti-vax types, known for making a ruckus around their in-the-minority viewpoint, could try to stoke a backlash. And given that the chain is offering the free doughnut promotion every day through the end of the year, some critics have already questioned its larger health message.

For many people, seeing somebody else get a free treat for doing something you’re desperate to do yourself is annoying at best.

But even among vaccine proponents, this kind of promotion may come across as a lot more opportunistic than legitimately helpful right now. In fact, for many people, seeing somebody else get a free treat for doing something you’re desperate to do yourself is annoying at best.

After all, demand for vaccination is still outstripping supply, so reward-driven cajolery isn’t particularly necessary (yet). If anything, brands are stoking vaccine FOMO. For…

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