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Krispy Kreme's Quirky 'Pirate' Promotion Lures Hungry Buccaneers


There are many ways businesses can drive customers into stores, but it's not every day that asking customers to talk like pirates will do the trick.

Today is International Talk Like a Pirate Day, a quirky holiday that came about in the '90s and has become a bit of a marketing peg for some businesses.

Krispy Kreme is perhaps the biggest business getting in on the pirate action. The company is offering one free doughnut today to customers who order in pirate speak – you know, using 'argh' and such. Dressing like a pirate will net you a dozen for no charge – no plundering necessary.

Krispy Kreme, founded in 1937 in Winston-Salem, N.C., only began celebrating International Talk Like a Pirate Day last year. "People love doughnuts, they just need another reason to enjoy and share it," says Lafeea Watson, Krispy Kreme's PR and media manager. "So we look for new and interesting ways to create those moments of joy."

Last year, average customer count on September 19 was up 61% over prior year at all Krispy Kreme locations.

This year, more than 8,000 people registered as "attending" on Krispy Kreme's Facebook event page "Talk Like a Pirate Day – U.S. & Canada." The event was careful to specify what defined a pirate costume: at least three qualifying items, such as an eye patch, pirate hook or peg leg.

Talk Like a Pirate Day reportedly started as an inside joke between two friends in 1995 but gained national popularity with Dave Barry's coverage of the holiday in 2002. While the holiday is still striving to be internationally recognized, it is gaining momentum on the state level. This June, Michigan passed a resolution to officially recognize Talk Like a Pirate Day, in an effort as a Great Lakes state to support "worthy maritime initiatives."  

Online social networks have been key to spreading the word and making Talk Like a Pirate Day a national success for Krispy Kreme. #TalkLikeAPirateDay is trending on Twitter, with companies as diverse as Dunkin' Donuts, Oxford Dictionaries and HarperCollins Children's Books getting in on the action. Krispy Kreme's Twitter has unsurprisingly been the most active, with retweets and Instragram pictures of customers excited to celebrate.

The Krispy Kreme Facebook page is flooded with users speaking as pirates and posting pictures of themselves in nautical garb. One user summed up the general sentiment of the page, writing, "Free doughnuts and I get to dress like a pirate! This is a no brainer, mateys!"

As thousands show up at participating Krispy Kreme locations to grab free doughnuts, maybe more franchises will consider promoting underrated holidays. September 24th's National Punctuation Day and September 27th's Hug A Vegetarian Day could soon be ripe opportunities for celebration.

Kate Taylor

Written By

Kate Taylor is a reporter at Business Insider. She was previously a reporter at Entrepreneur. Get in touch with tips and feedback on Twitter at @Kate_H_Taylor.