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Olive Garden thinks outside the Redbox with SMS-enabled promotion

Olive Garden’s popular “Buy One, Take One” has returned in a new SMS-enabled promotion with Redbox, as the chain aggressively explores new ways of putting deals in front of as many eyes as possible.

The “Dinner and a Movie” promotion allows Olive Garden guests to enjoy an entree in-store and get a second meal free to take home and pair with a Redbox movie. After customers order a “Buy One, Take One” item in-store, they text their receipt and store number to 727272 for a one-day rental.

“Brands that consumers are passionate about, and movies that consumers love to watch is a win-win combination,” said Marci Troutman, CEO of Siteminis. “This certainly could help with driving customers to the Darden Restaurant locations more often.”

Great American pastime
Olive Garden customers who text their receipt number then receive up to three messages and a rental code that can be redeemed at any one of about 35,000 Redbox movie kiosks nationwide.

The program is being promoted on both Olive Garden’s native Web site and responsive mobile browser.

According to Redbox, it has more kiosks in the United States than McDonalds and Starbucks combined. Redbox would provide Olive Garden a customer base with great advertising potential because it has successfully grown a base of returning value-oriented customers. These are the same type of people that would be enticed into buying Olive Garden’s $12.99 “Buy One, Take One” deal.

The Redbox partnership could help Darden Restaurants boost loyalty during a period when its sales are dwindling.

The Olive Garden promotion follows a similar venture by Applebee’s last month, which teamed up with smartphone movie app Flixster in a bid to lure moviegoers to add dinner nearby to their movie plans.

When users click on the Applebee’s “Find” button, it takes them to a page that features the chain’s new “Take Two Menu,” and another button that transports them to Google Maps and the nearest Applebee’s location to the theater they have selected.

Flickster mobile users are more action oriented than other app fans: they watch more trailers, do more viewing of showtimes and are engaged for longer periods of time than on Web according to the brand. And the ultimate consumer action is also stronger, as Flixster sells more movie tickets on mobile than any other platform.

In 2010 the movie discovery and listing brand reported that 80 percent of marketing spend was on the Web, and only 20 percent on devices. But by 2011 that share had shifted to 65 percent Web and 35 percent on devices. But in 2012, the percentage flipped completely and quickly. For the year, Flixster reports that studios were putting about 35 percent of their spend on the Web and 65 percent on mobile.

The most popular ad format on Flixster is the mobile “prestitial.” These are native mobile ads that link directly to the trailers on the movie details pages. On average, about 10 percent of mobile users click through to watch the trailers.

Mobile advertising and occasion-based marketing are becoming the new trend as  digital and mobile platforms increase in popularity.

Appearing on Flixster will ultimately be very beneficial for any brand since native ads are rare in the mobile world. On mobile, ad networks sell 80-90 percent of advertising inventory, but it’s native advertising on Flixster that has helped pushed its advertisers to mobile from Web.

Advertising with instant sales
In 2013 Q1, Redbox had 40 million unique credit cards, 17 plus million smartphone customers, 4 plus million mobile subscribers, and 5 plus million social media fans.

Redbox happens to have the very three pieces of data that every brand wants from customers: location, credit cards, and e-mail.

Advertising actually on these machines would be invaluable, as it presents the chance to sell to someone already in the process of making a purchase. A simple screen before checkout could allow customers to add offers from advertisers with 1-click.

Nearly 355 million people see Redbox machines every week the brand says.

Olive Garden is smart to unlock the value from Redbox by getting consumers to think of its dining choices every time they see the machines.

The partnership is also a win for Redbox, who cannot deny the decline of DVDs that will eventually be phased out as technology advances. Of course sales will be impacted greater than rentals, however streaming movies sales are already priced similarly to DVDs and can’t break or become misused. Redbox has recently begun allowing users to rent a second movie for only .50 and intermittently for free when renting a first one for full price.

If both Olive Garden and Redbox can keep their better value and allow for future discounts, both entities will preserve value proposition.

“Once customers realize they can order a second entrée to take home for free, it is word of mouth advertising at its best,” Ms. Troutman said.

“The idea of dinner and a movie with the free take home entrée is great – as there are Redbox stands everywhere, like there used to be blockbusters – This partnership could indeed be successful.”

Final Take
Michelle is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York