Krispy Kreme Offers Sweet Ending to Story

Krispy Kreme


How far will you go for a Krispy Kreme doughnut?

Fans of this addictive treat have been known to travel thousands of miles to the nearest store, while diehards often wait hours on line – and cause major traffic snarls – whenever a new location opens.

So, when a college kid in Minnesota – which has not had a Krispy Kreme store since 2008 – began taking orders and making runs to bring the sweet stuff to customers in the North Star State, he quickly picked up hundreds of customers.

It was the kind of story that attracts the attention of a reporter – which is exactly what happened. It also can lead to a second type of story, which also is what happened. As far as the third story … well, here the storyline goes against type – and provides a playbook for corporations caught in a similar media pickle.

It began when the Twin Cities Pioneer Press newspaper ran a story about Jayson Gonzalez, a 21-year-old student at Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minnesota. He had figured out how to get the chain’s treats to Minnesota fans who had been without a retail outlet since 2008 – the year the last Krispy Kreme store closed in the state.

A box of Krispy Kreme doughnuts


Operating out of a 2008 Ford Focus, Gonzalez picked up doughnuts from a Krispy Kreme shop in Iowa. He then delivered them to his customers in Minnesota. He operates out of his Krispy Kreme Run Minnesota Facebook page, which within days of launching received hundreds of orders. Able to cram about 100 boxes into his car, he resold them at about $17 to $20 a box – about a $10 markup.

No good deed goes unpunished, as they say – particularly when profits are a part of it – hence the arrival of the second part of the story. After the story on Gonzalez’ enterprising efforts was published, he reported that a representative from Krispy Kreme called him and told him to stop.

Given Krispy Kreme’s strong connection with its fans – it recently was named one of the top coffee chains – the response appeared to be a bit misguided. An enterprising student was bringing fans the food they craved. Shouldn’t that have been applauded?

Gonzalez’ followers thought so, and their response was swift. Gonzalez’ tone, as evidenced in a video posted on Facebook, only made his case stronger. In part, he said:

“It was never my intent to make Krispy Kreme the bad person or the bad company in this scenario. Right? I mean it’s pretty upsetting that I had a temporary halt … but it is what it is, you know? One opportunity closes another one will open. That is kind of the way I look at it.”

What was Krispy Kreme to do?

There are some popular story lines that reporters love because they tend to attract readers. In this instance Krispy Kreme could have dug in its heels and continued its “cease and desist” attitude toward Gonzalez – which would easily have been great fodder for any number of stories and news clips. Instead, the company posted this on Twitter:

How this arrangement will exactly work out remains to be seen. However, Krispy Kreme did several things right with its approach and statement. Rather than dig in its heels and continue to play the role of the big corporation trying to suppress the drive of an enterprising entrepreneur, it did the opposite and:

Offered a reasonable explanation. It revealed why it had initially directed Gonzalez to cease in his runs. That message remained consistent with its message of offering quality products to its customers.

Extended a gift. There are few more powerful ways to enlist support and admiration than to offer a gift, which in this situation comes in the form of 500 dozen doughnuts.

Reiterated company values. By aligning with Gonzalez, the company reiterates and aligns with the values of its diehard fans. Just as the company’s customers are willing to go many miles to a Krispy Kreme shop, the company is willing to “go the miles” to ensure fans have access to their products.

Created a new and more positive storyline. As we noted in a blog several weeks ago, the company set the story on a new track. Rather than using its corporate might to squash the dreams and ambitions of an enterprising student, the company wants to see him succeed. It’s a surprising twist that is likely to hook many a journalist. A quick search online reveals it already has. As we post this, the story is on CNN’s homepage.

Screenshot of CNN

This a sweet victory for Krispy Kreme’s PR department. But, it’s probably an even sweeter ending for Gonzalez and his sugar-craving customers.