Brands creatively show support for the graduating class of 2020

In Cassandra’s Life Interrupted report series, we’ve explored how today’s Millennials and Gen Zs are experiencing a lack of closure by missing milestone events, shifting their mindset from FOMO to NOMO (or, "no moments"). One such milestone? Graduations, which have been cancelled or altered, hitting affected Gen Zs especially hard. Sensing this, brands are stepping in and getting creative with little gifts that celebrate this year's grads, reminding them that their accomplishments are not forgotten.


Beloved donut maker Krispy Kreme found a way to give high school and college seniors a sweet treat despite upended graduation plans. For almost one entire week back in May, Krispy Kreme offered 2020 grads the chance to nab a limited-edition “2020 Graduate Dozen,” a free box of one dozen assorted donuts. The chain highlighted all of its classic flavors in the gift box, including Cake Batter Filled, Chocolate Iced with Sprinkles, Chocolate Iced Kreme Filled, Strawberry Iced with Sprinkles, Strawberry Iced Kreme Filled, and Yellow Iced Original Glazed Doughnuts. Participating seniors had to produce an identifying ‘class of 2020’ item, such as a class ring, graduation announcement, or student ID, to confirm their graduating status.


Elon Musk’s SpaceX honored all 2020 graduates—from kindergarten through grad school—with a special “trip” in lieu of physical graduation ceremonies. 2020 grads were invited to send a selfie into space, offering this cohort a unique gift for an unprecedented time. The selfie submissions were then digitally compiled and rendered into a mosaic showing planet Earth from space, which was then printed and added to SpaceX’s Crew Dragon spacecraft as it made its way to the International Space Station on May 30th. The mission itself, undertaken by NASA astronauts Bob Behnken and Doug Hurley, is America’s first human spaceflight in almost ten years.


Doritos kept the graduation commencement speech alive via its “Doritos Valedictorian” program. The program invited graduating high school seniors to submit their own abbreviated commencement speeches for the chance to have them aired on iHeartMedia’s podcast special Commencement: Speeches for the Class of 2020. Submissions were judged on impact, inspiration, authenticity, and inclusivity. Five graduates had their speeches aired on the show, and each received $50k toward their college tuition.