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Iowa Hawkeyes play fair with merchants, fans in mobile rewards

The University of Iowa has launched Hawkeye Rewards, a mobile loyalty program supporting the university’s sports teams and enabling consumers to earn and redeem points on the spot at participating merchant locations.

The program unveiled by the University of Iowa’s Department of Intercollegiate Athletics is designed to save consumers money and provide access to special events and promotions while giving participating merchants an opportunity to benefit from direct exposure to new customers via mobile and Web platforms. The Muv-U-developed program shows how mobile rewards have the power to bring benefits to users who may not directly support sports teams representing the University of Iowa.

“The UI athletics department is always looking for opportunities to strengthen relationships with our fans,” said Rick Klatt, associate athletics director for external relations with the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA. 

“In this case, we are also strengthening relationships with local and statewide and beyond businesses whose clientele and customers include fans of the Iowa Hawkeyes and friends of the University of Iowa.

“Is this the classic win-win?” he asked. “We think so.”

Mapping location
Hawkeye Rewards is an affinity program tied to an independent collegiate sports franchise and not to any credit card or banking qualification. Its users benefit from the savings and points generated by the program while supporting their favorite sports franchise, the Hawkeyes.

Mobile is bringing a new dimension to college loyalty programs.

The Hawkeye Rewards mobile app includes geographic location mapping so that users are automatically notified of participating merchants and deals closest to their actual proximity. They can search for merchants in various ways, based on preference.

Users will be able to download the Hawkeye Rewards mobile app from the Apple or Android app store, starting Aug. 15. The app then can be used to earn points and take advantage of merchant offers.

The app will include a list of participating merchants searchable by category, such as food, merchandise, tickets and travel, or by geographic proximity.

Once at a participating merchant location, members can use their smartphones to earn points on purchases they can make with cash or any merchant-accepted credit card. They also can use accrued points to make purchases right from their smartphones.

Merchants can cut and paste content into mobile and online sites. Once approved, the content will be automatically formatted and deployed. Merchants can use the platform to promote their businesses and offer deals directly to consumers.

For a small or medium-sized business, the program offers an opportunity to engage in mobile marketing without having to set aside time or money to develop a platform.

The convenience of mobile promises to bring a new dimension to college loyalty programs, which typically focus on getting students discounts and offers at establishments such as restaurants, beauty salons, computer repair shops and fitness facilities.

Transformative moments
Mobile’s ability to reach students, merchants and community members in moments of need could provide new opportunities for education marketers.

Hawkeyes’ Web site.

“There is no other loyalty program that also provides an affinity network – in this case to Hawkeye Sports – that allows small and medium-sized businesses to use the power of the Hawkeye Sports brand to promote their businesses,” said Tom Ondrejicka, founder and CEO of Muv-U, based in Barrie, Ontario, Canada.

Final Take
Michael Barris is staff reporter on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York