A few years ago, when the troubles of a faltering worldwide economy had not yet landed at our doorstep, we all went wild for Krispy Kreme doughnuts. Yes, doughnuts, hot off the production line, beckoning the passer-by with glowing, neon “Hot NOW!” signs in the window, completely occupied the minds and stomachs of those Americans lucky enough to live near a strip mall that was home to the darling of the fast food industry.
We lined up for the first dose of dripping, liquid glaze oozing over the doughnut that rolled off the production line in each and every Krispy Kreme store. The stock price soared as the lines grew longer, and American cities went crazy for The Kreme.
Then, almost as fast as it appeared, the neon sign went off, the lines disappeared, and stores closed down. It’s almost surreal driving past the shop that made headline news for a week , now sporting brand new plywood covering that fabled neon.
Marketers killed the Krispy Kreme dream. As soon as the doughnuts moved from the made-fresh, free-standing stores to the boxes in our grocery store, the allure, and the fascination, disappeared. When it came to you hot and dripping, it inspired cult-like desire. Out of the box it became one cold, sugary disappointment. So, as soon as the vast majority of Americans, thrilled by the chance to finally taste this phenomenon for themselves, tasted the boxed version, the whole dream crashed to the ground.
Are you hearing this, Cinnabon? The great treat from American shopping malls, with it’s hot gooey icing just dripping down the sides (wait just a minute, where have we heard this story before?) A hot, heavenly-scented baked treat delivered right to your tongue? (Is it a doughnut or a cinnamon roll?) It’s sweet relief for the tired shopper lured by the smell that of that baking delight wedged between Abercrombie and The Gap.
But, in a classic case of the blind leading the blind, the Cinnabon brand is now available, packed dead cold in a box, at my local Costco! And guess what? It stinks!
I know that the marketing wizards and the finance guys at these two companies can prove that there is greater potential in mass distribution and brand licensing. I know that a greater return for the investor drives all decisions. But, like car manufacturers who take their brand USP and extend it into every other brand USP (ahem, Saab), leaving their loyal followers crying in the driveway, retail brands can over-reach too.
RIP Cinnabon. Maybe you can share a cold grave plot with your cousin, Krispy Kreme.