Krispy Kreme announced this week that it was compounding the joy of receiving a COVID vaccine – show your vaccine card and you can get a free plain glazed donut diary until the rest of 2021.
This, objectively, governs. Krispy Kreme’s Plain Glazed Donut is truly the ultimate donut, a perfect yeast sweet treat. The promotion appeared to be a marketing coup for the company, drawing the attention of the press and social media. And who knows? Maybe there is a Krispy Kreme superfan somewhere who changes his mind about getting a vaccine.
But there is an asterisk in the Krispy Kreme release. Here’s what their website says in a question on behalf of those who choose not to get vaccinated:
WHAT IF I DON’T WANT TO BE VACCINATED, CAN I STILL RECEIVE THIS OFFER?
We understand that choosing to receive the COVID-19 vaccine is a very personal decision. We advise all employees and guests to check with their healthcare provider on whether they should get a COVID-19 vaccine and which vaccine to receive after reviewing the available information. If you have made a personal decision not to receive the COVID vaccine, please visit us Monday, 3/29/21 – 5/24/21, to receive a free Original Glazed® donut and a half-brewed coffee to have your week off. off to a good start.
Anti-vax monday! To be fair, Monday’s promotion is open to everyone: those who reject the vaccine and those who desperately hope to be eligible for their first injection of Moderna. What’s notable here is that Krispy Kreme directly targeted this group of customers. As a PR move, it’s a bit of a pain. Doesn’t this message undermine the meaning of this promotion? Not to mention, unlike getting a mole exam or going to the dentist, getting vaccinated is not just a “very personal decision,” it is a public health measure that will protect the most vulnerable and help end a pandemic.
It seems that Krispy Kreme, while developing a feel-good corporate promotion, came across a cold, hard truth about America: You can’t even give away a free donut without going into a culture war. The speech about these free donuts has already involved a public debate about the health risks of weight gain. It is unclear if the company already had warning signs of a setback, or if it wanted to preventively prevent such a firestorm. Regardless of how it declined, it’s clear the company remains concerned about appeasing the anti-vaccine portion of its customer base.
Still, at least Krispy Kreme isn’t exactly treating anti-vaccines the same. They get nine Mondays in total. Your promotion doesn’t even make it to Memorial Day. Assuming you already have your vaccination card handy, you could get 283 free donuts this year, starting today. So if a vaccine skeptic in your life doesn’t listen to the pleas of public health experts, maybe consider the trade-offs presented by the good folks at Krispy Kreme: 0 percent virus protection, sure, but also only 3 percent of free donuts.