How Krispy Kreme Turned the Halloween That Wasn’t Into a Marketing Opportunity

Donut chain introduces the notion of reverse trick-or-treating

Donuts decorated to look like monsters await a pre-Halloween drop off to friends and family. Krispy Kreme
Headshot of Robert Klara

With the CDC recommending family-only pumpkin carving and virtual costume contests in lieu of traditional trick-or-treating because of the coronavirus pandemic, it’s clear that this Halloween will be a holiday like no other—scary, perhaps, for all the wrong reasons. And while candy sales have been healthy, only 66% of Americans say they will go door-to-door with their kids this year, according to the National Confectioners Association. Halloween spending is expected to dip 8% overall, according to the National Retail Federation, with much of that falloff hitting the costume business, where spending could be off as much as $550 million.

But even if most trick-or-treating is off, Krispy Kreme has found a way to turn somber news into a marketing opportunity, which it’s calling “reverse trick-or-treat.” Every Saturday starting this weekend, the chain will sell a dozen of its regular glazed donuts for $1 with the purchase of a dozen at full price. (The discounted dozen includes a special Krispy Kreme Jack-O’-Lantern Donut.)

So where’s the trick-or-treating that’s being reversed? The idea is to take the extra dozen and drop them off to a friend, family or neighbor (by leaving them on the doorstep and running, one presumes). In a statement, Krispy Kreme CMO Dave Skena dubbed the promo a way “to safely enjoy the season.” He continued: “It’s not a normal Halloween, but that doesn’t mean we can’t make it a sweet one.”

Not one to miss a suitably ghoulish promotional opportunity, the donut chain on Monday also rolled out what it’s calling Scary Sweet Monster Donuts. These include the Frank Monster Donut, which boasts green icing and is decorated to look like a “classic monster,” said headquarters, and the Wolfie Monster Donut, fashioned with fur and fangs to resemble a werewolf.

Meanwhile, despite the fact that parties and other Halloween staples are off this year, candy sales are actually up by 13%, driven largely by Halloween chocolate, sales of which have risen over 25%. The NCA did not venture an explanation for these spikes, though there’s an obvious one as old as the holiday itself: Trick-or-treating or no trick-or-treating, adults are simply sitting home and eating the treats.


@UpperEastRob robert.klara@adweek.com Robert Klara is a senior editor, brands at Adweek, where he specializes in covering the evolution and impact of brands.
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