Krispy Kreme’s viral promotion, which involves free donuts for anyone who gets a COVID-19 vaccine shot, was received with a little pushback.
Last Monday, the donut chain announced that the offer — which is applicable to any customers that have received at least one of two doses of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single shot of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine — is available at locations nationwide and goes until the end of 2021 without additional purchase.
However, many social media users called out Krispy Kreme in the following days and pointed out that obesity is a growing problem for Americans and is a risk factor for COVID-19. (According to the CDC, obesity was prevalent in 42.4 percent of Americans in 2017 to 2018).
“Krispy Kreme is offering free donuts to anyone who’s been vaccinated. Which is great news for anyone who got the shot but still has a death wish,” Stephen Colbert tweeted.
In an interview with Yahoo! Finance on Friday, CEO Mike Tattersfield defended the company’s intentions with the controversial promotion deal. “We’re a sweet treat company, [and] if folks don’t want to visit a donut shop, they don’t have to,” said Tattersfield.
Krispy Kreme is offering free donuts to anyone who’s been vaccinated. Which is great news for anyone who got the shot but still has a death wish.
— Stephen Colbert (@StephenAtHome) March 23, 2021
Tattersfield further pushed back against the criticism and said that if “folks that want to get a vaccine, if they decide to combine a Krispy Kreme pickup [for] a doughnut, they can. That’s how we look at it… generosity.”
“I drop off a lot of doughnuts to the healthcare system. They’re very appreciative, given the days that they have to work…people are always looking for a little sweet treat break. It’s okay,” he said.
Tattersfield also said that the company — which saw a surge in sales amid the pandemic in 2020 — will cover the costs of the free donuts for the promotion.
“We’ve always done fundraising and had some type of give back to the community,” he told Yahoo! Finance. “The majority of the United States is a company owned system, so we pick up the tab.”
In addition to the free donut deal, Krispy Kreme has promised to support health care workers and volunteers who are administering vaccines by delivering free donuts to vaccination centers across the country in the coming weeks.
The company is also giving all employees up to four hours of paid time off to get the vaccine.
“We all want to get COVID-19 behind us as fast as possible and we want to support everyone doing their part to make the country safe by getting vaccinated as soon as the vaccine is available to them,” Dave Skena, Krispy Kreme chief marketing officer, said in the press release.
And for those questioning how the campaign will affect Krispy Kreme’s bottom line. Tattersfield contended that the initiatives have brought more customers into stores, with sales rising during the pandemic. “Last year, we gave away 30 million doughnuts. We didn’t come into the year thinking that we’re going to do 30 million doughnuts from giveaway,” he said. “We’ve always done fundraising and had some type of give back to the community. The majority of the United States is a company owned system, so we pick up the tab.”