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Burger King’s unique Location-Based #WhopperDetour promotion gives customers a reason to download app

Burger King made news this week by offering up its iconic Whopper sandwich for just one cent on their mobile app. It’s an incredible deal. 

The catch is, you can only get this deal once, and you can only get it at… McDonalds???

In a clever technology/PR stunt, Burger King’s #WhopperDetour promotion geofenced about 14,000 McDonalds locations in the U.S. inside its mobile app. When users get to within 600 feet of a McDonalds, they can activate the one-cent promotion in the Burger King app, then head to the nearest BK to get the deal.

I’m not a big fast food guy myself, but I am fascinated by mobile marketing, and it was a unique promotion that leveraged technology. So I downloaded the Burger King app and tried it out this week to see how seamless the experience would be. And hey, can you argue with a $0.01 Whopper? 

I did a little research in Google Maps to find a Burger King that was near a McDonalds in Las Vegas, and found one about 5 minutes away from me. So I made the drive to Micky Ds.

As I pulled up next door, I re-opened the app and clicked on the promotion. It immediately confirmed that I’d unlocked my #WhopperDetour deal, and then provided me with a link to navigate to a nearby Burger King. 

So far, so good! It then asked whether I wanted Drive-Thru, Dine-In or Take Out. After that, I started to make my order, and grabbed my $0.01 Whopper, and added some chicken tenders and a drink. Total cost: $2.49. Not too shabby.

Except the kicker was coming, and I assumed it would be around the corner: Burger King wanted my data. This was not entirely surprising, but as a new user of the app who downloaded it just a few minutes ago, I will say, it almost caused me to abandon ship. 

After all, why not just have a Big Mac here instead? I’m already 600 feet from McDonalds…

Quite frankly, this is where the promotion may backfire for Burger King. Some people just aren’t willing to give away their data in exchange for a “free” Whopper. The marketer in me was willing to do it to evaluate the promotion, but otherwise, I would have likely just hit the road, or enjoyed a full-price Big Mac and called it a day.

So I started the sign-up process, and hey, there’s a Facebook Connect option. One click. Let’s try that.

Not so fast!

Facebook wouldn’t log me in. So I had to sign up, with a name, email, zip code, password and my credit card info on the next screen. 

(Apparently you can’t just drop a penny on the counter for your Whopper. I had one ready to go.)

Finally, I was able to complete my order. 

Time to drive to Burger King! 

The restaurant I’d picked was about 5 minutes away. The app gives you a direct link to Apple Maps to get you turn-by-turn directions to the store. Nice and easy. Well done, BK.

The app also gives you an hour to go complete the mission, and there’s a countdown clock in the bottom of the screen to let you know how much time you’ve got left to cash in on the deal.

When you get to Burger King, you check in with the red button, which charges your card and lets the store know you’re actually going to pick up your meal.

As I walked in the store, I hit the button, and seconds later, a receipt automatically printed at the counter. 

My app confirmed on screen that Order 86 was being prepared. “We’re preparing your order now. Please give your name to a BK Staff member and let them know you placed a mobile order.”

I told them I had ordered on the app, and the cashier told me it would be a few minutes.

Finally, mission accomplished.

Overall, it’s a clever promotion, and it certainly generated plenty of media attention. It got me to download the app out of curiosity, and spend $2.49 for a quick meal. The location aspect of the promotion worked seamlessly, but the logistics of setting up an account in the app slowed the process down quite a bit, and as I said earlier, almost made me abandon the whole thing, and even made me consider eating at their competitor’s store.

While I appreciate their desire for data collection, in this case, it may have been more effective to just allow customers to claim the deal, and pay however they wanted to when they get to Burger King.

The promotion ends on December 12, and apparently, you can only cash in on it once. According to CNN, 50,000 people have already redeemed the promotion. 

While it’s a little wonky from an execution standpoint, it got people talking about Burger King this week, and it gave customers a reason to download their app, which is not easy to do. Mobile apps have to solve problems and complete tasks to earn a spot on consumer’s home screen.

At least for one day, Burger King got their app on my phone. That’s half the battle.

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Interview: Bring your traditional brand into the digital world

I did this interview in 2015 at the DMA Conference in Boston about making traditional brands stand out in a digital world, and much of what I talked about here still resonates today.

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Media Masters Podcast – Episode 1 – Dan Harbison, Caesars Entertainment (Part 1)

I’m taking up a new hobby in 2014 and launching a podcast. The idea is simple; I’m going to talk to some of the leaders in digital, social and traditional media who I’ve gotten the chance to know (and a few I’ve never met) to learn more about their work and share it with people who may find it interesting and relevant.

My first call was to Dan Harbison (@darbison), who’s currently the Global Head of New Media at Caesars Entertainment Corporation in Las Vegas, NV. I’ve known Dan since about 2005 from his days as the Sr. Director of Digital Marketing and Media at the Portland Trail Blazers, and he’s a guy who I respect tremendously. We talked for over an hour, and probably could have gone on for another hour. We split the conversation into two parts.

The first episode (just over 40 minutes) covers Dan’s outlook on database marketing, the differences between working in the NBA and the gaming/casino industry, what makes a great hashtag, and whose marketing during the Super Bowl actually worked. I really enjoyed our conversation and hopefully a few digital marketing/social media geeks out there will as well.

More from Media Masters
Media Masters on iTunes | Media Masters on SoundCloud

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SMX Social Media Las Vegas – Keynote Conversation

Here’s a 60-minute video of my first conference keynote, a Keynote Conversation I did with Matt McGee at SMX Social Media Las Vegas talking about how the Celtics handle digital and social media.

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The Boston Globe Goes Inside the Celtics’ Social Media Efforts

The Boston Globe gave the Celtics a brief write up for our social media efforts, as reporter Chad Finn spent a game day with myself and others from the front office getting an inside look at our digital marketing initiatives.

There’s a lot more to it than the article covers, and many people in our organization help make this stuff work. Social media is just one spoke on the wheel that runs the marketing engine. It just happens to be the sexiest spoke these days, one in which there’s currently plenty of interest.

One thing is certain: marketing the Boston Celtics has changed dramatically since the days of Larry Bird, and even just in the seven years that I’ve been with the team. When I came on board in 2005-06, it was all about Celtics.com and email marketing. These days, there’s always something new around the corner. Just when we think we’ve mastered Facebook, Pinterest comes out of nowhere. Now that we’ve got Twitter pretty much nailed down, here comes Instagram.

The only real question: What’s next?

Boston Globe: Celtics Applying Themselves with Social Media