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Carl’s Jr. spices up burger sales with mobile-driven takedown contest

Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are introducing the new Thickburger El Diablo via a $1-off coupon on the chains’ mobile-optimized sites and encouraging fans of spicy foods to post their experiences eating the burger with the #DiabloDare hashtag to win prizes, proving that mobile coupons reign supreme in driving sales of new products.

The new Thickburger, which is a spicy variant on the chains’ Angus beef burgers, features pepper-Jack cheese, Jalapeno Poppers, sliced jalapenos and habanero bacon sauce to offer consumer four strong tastes. The brands hope to drive sales of the El Diablo Thickburger by engaging in a social media blitz where users are asked to upload photos or posts while eating the product via the #DiabloDare hashtag to share their experiences.

“We feel this social/mobile campaign taps into something that our ‘young, hungry guy’ target already loves to do on their own, and that is challenge each other with dares and document the results,” said Brandon LaChance, Director of Advertising at Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s, Hermosa Beach, CA.

Attracting mobile users
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are gearing up to reach more consumers on mobile and digital platforms by also rolling out a YouTube commercial featuring Victoria’s Secret model Sara Sampaio.

The commercial is designed to showcase the fiery nature of the burger by taking place in an ice bar which begins to melt once Ms. Sampaio and the food item turn up the heat.

The commercial will also be running as a television spot.

The brands are inviting mobile users to visit and to receive coupons for participating products, while fans who engage in the social media promotion will receive $1 off any combination including an El Diablo Thickburger. This suggests that they are aiming to reach on-the-go consumers who may decide to stop into a Carl’s Jr. or Hardee’s bricks-and-mortar restaurant on a whim.

“Our ‘young, hungry guy’ target is very tech savvy and expect that any/all content they wish to consume or interact with can be found on their mobile devices,” Mr. LaChance said. “If they can’t find it with us, they will simply find other content and experiences elsewhere.

“It’s important to us to provide them with what they want where they want it.”

Burger King recently ramped up awareness and a bid for extra sales for its Chicken Fries, a beloved product that had made its return to restaurants after being discontinued in 2012 (see story). The brand rolled out a unique strategy by enabling consumers to download a chicken-inspired emoji keyboard, a tactic which proves that emojis may indeed be a potent marketing tool.

Mobile loyalty
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are one of the many food and beverage brands leveraging mobile loyalty programs to resonate with existing customers and gain new consumers. While the brands often cross-post promotions on their social media pages to reach mobile users, they also offer a joint mobile application, Super Star Rewards.

Guests using the Super Star Rewards mobile app can check-in to Hardee’s and Carl’s Jr. locations, with each check-in garnering rewards points that users can then redeem immediately for products in the restaurants. High value rewards are also available for those who prefer to save and accumulate their points.

A store locator is also in the app for consumers that want to visit a nearby location but do not know of one.

“Super Star Rewards, our mobile loyalty program, is a priority for the brands and continues to gain in downloads and redemptions on a daily basis since launch,” Mr. LaChance said. “Also, it can often be the last touch point a brand has with a consumer before they make a purchase decision.

“Fast food dining choices can often be a spur of the moment decision when a consumer is out and about and if we can be there at that time with the right content and incentives, we can increase our share of traffic.”

Final Take
Alex Samuely is an editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York