Dynamic Doughnuts, Inc. was awarded the Krispy Kreme Doughnut franchise for Upstate New York, and planned to open a Rochester, N.Y. location in December 2000. Since the overall success of Krispy Kreme locations are tied to the volume of first week sales, Buck & Pulleyn, Inc. was hired to generate store traffic. The result was higher than projected sales and a frenzied buzz from a community that couldn’t get enough of Krispy Kreme fever.


Situation: Until Fall 2000, Krispy Kreme had never operated a franchise in Upstate New York. As such, Buck & Pulleyn had to gauge the market opportunity (potential customer base and media interest) using a combination of data from launches in other regions and informal Rochester-specific data.

Research Tactics: Research was limited by a sub-$1,500 budget. As such, informal techniques included studying cases from past Krispy Kreme openings throughout the U.S., interviewing other regional agencies that had conducted winter grand openings (e.g., Chicago), attending a Buffalo, N.Y. opening in August 2000, and using Buck & Pulleyn staff to conduct informal market awareness tests among business associates and acquaintances.


  • The potential customer base for Krispy Kreme ranged from children to seniors in a 20-mile radius surrounding the store. As such, a campaign would have to be extremely broad in its approach. 
  • Krispy Kreme was not well known in the Rochester market among the potential customer base, so the campaign would have to address almost zero brand equity in the region. 
  • Krispy Kreme had never been covered by the Rochester media, nor was there much awareness among local journalists. In addition, retail openings had traditionally been shunned by a very skeptical and non-commercial media environment in the region. Communicating the Krispy Kreme experience would not be simple. 
  • Among those Rochester-area consumers who had eaten a Krispy Kreme doughnut in some other market, almost all were extremely enthusiastic about the brand, and were very willing to share their experiences. 
  • Because of minimal budgets (under $20,000), the campaign would have to bring maximum results at every stage. There would be no room to catch up if the program were to somehow slip.


Chief Objectives:

  • Drive overall grand opening week store traffic and sales. 
  • Build at least 30% market awareness of the “Krispy Kreme experience” among potential customers. 
  • Develop an understanding of the “Hot Light,” which is turned on to indicate that hot, original glazed doughnuts are coming off the line and ready to be served. This is a prime driver of impulse traffic.

Key Messages

  • Krispy Kreme Doughnuts, a southern delicacy and growing national phenomenon, is opening its first Rochester location in December 2000. 
  • Opening day demand for Krispy Kreme will be like nothing that Rochester has seen, as aficionados – and newly minted fans – will arrive early and stay late. 
  • Both long-term fans and new customers alike partake in the “Krispy Kreme experience,” a sense of extreme comfort and delight that overcomes you after eating an original glazed doughnut. 
  • The Krispy Kreme “Hot Light” signifies that hot doughnuts – the manner in which original glazed doughnuts are preferred to be eaten – are ready to be served. Look for the glow of the light on external store signs.

Strategic Components: 

  • Build anticipation and curiosity among targets months before the grand opening to generate buzz. 
  • Tap into latent passion and excitement among residents who had experienced Krispy Kreme in other markets. 
  • Use the influence of community and business leaders to spread the word about Krispy Kreme. 
  • Seed the market with samples to provide a hint of the true “Krispy Kreme experience.” 
  • Maximize media exposure, dominating the regional news surrounding opening day. 
  • Prominently include the “Hot Light” message in all communications to ensure understanding.


Groundbreaking. To generate initial awareness, an introductory groundbreaking ceremony was held three months prior to the grand opening. In addition to inviting local politicians and business leaders, Buck & Pulleyn invited Krispy Kreme fans, dubbing them as “ambassadors” of the experience. The “Krispy Kreme Queen for a Day” contest was organized with a regional adult contemporary radio station, where the listener with the best Krispy Kreme story was escorted to the groundbreaking ceremony by the morning show personalities, given the first Krispy Kreme doughnut to arrive in Rochester, and escorted back to work in the “Krispy Kreme Cruiser” (a customized PT Cruiser). To build excitement, as well as to provide photo opportunities, the first Krispy Kreme doughnuts (picked up more than 200 miles away that morning in Scranton, Penn.) to arrive in Rochester were escorted into town by the local fire department, a team of high school cheerleaders, and a high school band. All regional network affiliates (NBC, CBS, ABC, FOX) attended and covered the event, as did the regional daily newspaper and multiple radio stations (including news/talk, dance, adult contemporary, rock, and even classical outlets).

Customer Seeding. Buck & Pulleyn coordinated a Krispy Kreme sponsorship of a local radio station’s annual 36-hour roof sit at a regional mall (located one mile from the Krispy Kreme site) over Thanksgiving weekend — the busiest shopping days of the year and just to weeks from the grand opening — to benefit the Salvation Army. Free doughnuts, 200 dozen in total, were handed out at the mall entrance to Salvation Army donors, and Krispy Kreme received numerous on-air mentions. The agency also delivered 500 dozen free doughnuts to locations with high concentrations of prospects — large businesses (e.g., Kodak, Xerox), hospitals, universities, and schools — during the week before the opening, with each dozen containing a box-topper calling attention to the grand opening.

Sneak Preview Party. The agency compiled a list of the top 400 influencers in the Rochester region, including business heads, community leaders, Krispy Kreme “ambassadors,” and managers from local media outlets. Each received a mini-doughnut box containing the exclusive invitation via mail, teasing that the actual doughnuts could be obtained by attending the event. More than 400 people attended the Saturday-afternoon party to tour the new location and sample the doughnuts. In addition, the “buzz” was extremely evident, as all network affiliates arrived unexpectedly (none were invited so as not to upstage the grand opening news a few days later) to cover the sneak preview, as did many people without invitations (who were thanked for their support, give a half-dozen doughnuts at the door, and asked to return for the grand opening).

Paid Media Support. Limited paid media was used to supplement awareness of the opening. This included an advertisement in the local newspaper’s weekend supplement that was published just prior to the grand opening, as well as two interstate billboards with the “hot light” message that were revealed panel-by-panel to build anticipation for the opening.

Grand Opening. The strategy to dominate the local media began to take hold the eve of the grand opening, when the regional daily newspaper ran a “Hot Light” feature with color photos and maps as the main spread in the lifestyle section (with a front page, above the fold teaser). That evening, FOX News reported live from the site about the next morning’s grand opening, and other stations began to tease their planned live coverage. The morning of the grand opening, the local NBC affiliate began airing live, in-store reports every 30 minutes (from 5:30 a.m. to 9 a.m.), as did the CBS and ABC affiliates and a regional FM radio station. Beginning at 3:30 a.m., Buck & Pulleyn delivered 10 dozen doughnuts to every media outlet in Rochester, resulting in multiple on-air interviews and shots of anchors enjoying their Krispy Kremes. Likewise, Buck & Pulleyn alerted traffic reporters at radio and television stations to the growing traffic back up outside the store, who passed along the Krispy Kreme excitement to listeners/viewers. The media frenzy continued throughout the day, as the ABC, CBS, and NBC affiliates all covered the opening as one of the day’s top three stories with live reports at 12 p.m., 5 p.m., 5:30 p.m., and 6 p.m.


All campaign objectives were exceeded, surpassing the expectations of Dynamic Doughnuts and the Krispy Kreme corporate marketing department:

  • The Rochester grand opening week drastically exceeded sales goals (160% of anticipated revenue), with more than 16,000 doughnuts being served each day. In fact, the Rochester location had to start taking shipments of doughnuts from Buffalo (70 miles away) each morning to meet demand. 
  • Buzz about the “Krispy Kreme experience” dominated the consciousness of Rochester during grand opening week.  On opening day, over 100 customers were in line at 5 a.m. — outside, in a snowstorm — to get one of the first hot doughnuts, and the drive-through had a 75-car line by 6 a.m. These numbers were sustained during the first week, where the normal wait averaged 90 minutes. Awareness levels approached 8 0% as gauged by informal sampling. 
  • The “Hot Light” story was explained by every media outlet covering the opening, helping to achieve understanding of the hot doughnut concept among potential customers. Nearly 100 percent of invited media attended the event. 
  • The Rochester media exclaimed on-air that the Krispy Kreme opening was the single largest one-day news event (75 stories in 24 hours; more than 130 in total) that the region had seen in years. One ABC journalist commented that it was on par with the legendary 1991 ice storm coverage, which shut down winter-hardy Rochester for more than a week.