It’s a sad reality that coffee, donuts and ice cream are among the treats being dangled by marketers as incentives for voters to march down to the polls today and cast their ballots.
In the most important election of my three-decade lifetime, sweeteners from some of the world’s biggest brands are undoubtedly motivating people to exercise their electoral right. I don’t blame Starbucks, Krispy Kreme and Ben & Jerry’s for essentially doling out freebies to voters. I just think it’s embarrassing if it works. After all, if it wasn’t for the cup of joe in the mix, the sweet rewards bring a do-your-work-and-get-a-cookie, kindergarten-like feel to the whole episode. Fortunately, legal ramifications have blunted the plans a bit.
All three companies have backed off initial PR plans to directly reward voters.
The Washington state attorney general’s office contacted Starbucks about the promotion this week. A spokesman for the division of elections said that a promotion tied to whether people voted could be construed as rewarding someone for voting and could violate federal and state law. Starbucks later expanded its voter-only free coffee offer to anyone.
“Originally, we planned to give free scoops away just to those who voted. We found out afterwards that certain laws may not allow it. So instead we’re celebrating our election with a national party,” said Walt Freese, Chief Euphoria Officer of the Vermont based ice-cream maker.