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Krispy Kreme digs up in-store treasure with pirate-themed mobile site

Krispy Kreme hopes to boost in-store traffic this Saturday with a new mobile site, called the ArrPhone, that offers virtual accessories for dressing up on International Talk Like a Pirate Day while driving interest in the Kreme Filled Pirate donut.

The chain is celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day on Sept. 19 by giving away a complimentary Original Glazed donut to anyone who talks to the cashier in pirate terms, and one dozen donuts to customers who come in-store dressed in pirate-themed garb. Krispy Kreme has designed a mobile site for the promotion containing virtual accessories that consumers can use to decorate their costumes as well as other themed content, to ensure that fans visit its bricks-and-mortar locations and potentially become inspired to purchase more sweet treats.

“For many people, mobile is the primary touchpoint for brand engagement, and it’s a great fit for our 9/19 Talk Like a Pirate Day promotion where customers can view and share videos, create a fun pirate name and download virtual pirate gear on our ArrPhone site,” said Amy Harp, vice president of global social and digital at Krispy Kreme, Winston-Salem, NC. “This last feature is particularly suited to mobile because the virtual gear counts as one of three pirate accessories needed to earn wearers a free dozen Original Glazed doughnuts.

“Just display your virtual earring, tattoo or beard on your smartphone plus two other pirate accessories and you’re good to go. Try doing that with desktop!”

Tapping holiday promotions
Krispy Kreme is aiming to excite consumers ahead of the holiday season by offering a fun way to commemorate International Talk Like a Pirate Day. Some stores will begin doling out treats beginning at midnight on Saturday, providing an incentive for customers to engage in late-night donut runs.

“I can’t think of a more impulse-driven buy than donuts,” said Dave McIninch, chief revenue officer of Acquisio, Quebec, Canada. “That’s a need/craving-driven experience for sure – and in time of (donut) need, people reach for their smartphones – so making it easy to find and source that craving-killer in the sea of competition that exists out there means that Krispy Kreme, Dunkin’ Donuts and the rest of them must have a great mobile experience, or they miss scooping up new market share.

“Loyal people go out of their way to visit those brands, but the incremental growth comes from those people who are just looking for ‘a fix’ – and mobile is the way to go.”

The brand claims that this holiday has become one of the biggest days of the year for its sales, most likely thanks to the chain’s hand-decorated Kreme Filled Pirate donut, available for a limited time.

Consumers seeking free pastries may visit their local Krispy Kreme store on Saturday and speak to the cashier in pirate slang to receive a complimentary Original Glazed Donut. Meanwhile, those who walk in dressed to the nines in pirate gear will be awarded with a dozen glazed donuts for free.

Fans may visit Krispy Kreme’s dedicated mobile microsite,, to find out more about the promotion and unlock exclusive content in their quest to accumulate donuts.

The ArrPhone mobile site contains a pirate crew call, virtual accessories to aid customers in their costuming efforts, a pirate name generator and additional information about the daylong promotion.

Customers are required to wear costumes with at least three qualifying items to win the one dozen donuts, such as an eye patch, bandana, leather belt and pointed black boots. However, smartphone users may also use their devices to complement their outfits by visiting the pirate accessories section of the site and holding up an image of a pirate beard or anchor tattoo to their bodies.

This serves as a prime example showcasing how brands can drive customers to temporary microsites with an incentive. Furthermore, Krispy Kreme will likely experience an uptick in sales on Saturday as consumers visit stores in tow with friends or family, who may be persuaded to purchase donuts for themselves.

“Krispy Kreme has found a way to make donuts relevant and exciting by leveraging an International Day,” said Jennifer Gavin, senior director of marketing at PadSquad, New York. “They have created an effective offline and online experience around it.

“Surely the draw of a free donut is enough to get anyone through the doors, however, the mobile site gives customers a destination where they can further engage with the brand while they are on-the-go. With this initiative, Krispy Kreme is properly leveraging the mobile Web by creating a brand experience that goes far beyond dropping by a store to grab a free donut – all without having to download an app!”

Swirling up interest
The food marketer is also hoping to swirl up interest in the Kreme Filled Pirate donuts, which retail for $1.29 each. Additionally, fans may purchase a 24 ounce beverage in a reusable pirate cup for $1.99, or opt to put their fountain drink in a Talk Like a Pirate ceramic mug for $6.99.

The donut chain has bolstering its mobile strategy over the past year in an effort to stay afloat in its competitive fast food sector, and will likely see positive response to its swashbuckling promotion.

Last December, Krispy Kreme ramped up its mobile strategy to reward customers and compete with other major quick-service restaurants’ loyalty platforms with the release of its My Krispy Kreme Treats mobile application (see story).

Meanwhile, the brand’s Korean branches found the right ingredients in a branded Facebook application game as it attempted to further mobile engagement among customers and advertise its new strawberry donuts (see story).

“[Mobile is] an important and growing part of our marketing strategy, especially considering the ubiquity of smartphones and tablets, and the fact that mobile devices now outnumber people,” Krispy Kreme’s Ms. Harp said. “We launched the popular Krispy Kreme Hotlight app in 2011 so our fans never missed an opportunity to get an Original Glazed doughnut hot off the line, and we’re currently rolling out our mobile Krispy Kreme Rewards loyalty program nationwide.

“In fact, we went directly to mobile for Krispy Kreme Rewards, completely bypassing plastic cards which seemed something of a relic of the past in today’s mobile-enhanced age.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely, editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York