Carl's Jr., Hardee's launch GPS-based mobile app and rewards program

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CKE Restaurants launched a GPS-enabled loyalty program on December 28 that rewards consumers for checking in at its Carl's Jr. and Hardee's locations.

CKE tapped design and advertising agency 72andSunny to help it develop the “Happy Star” app. The two companies have worked together since June 2009, when the agency designed Facebook apps for the two fast-food chains.

Consumers' first check in, and every subsequent fourth check-in earns them the opportunity to win discounted and free menu items, branded gift cards, prizes and merchandise from partner companies. Prizes include Sony electronics and tickets to see the upcoming film, The Green Hornet.

“Mobile rewards programs that offer coupons and high-end prizes will steadily increase store traffic, redemption rates and most of all, sales,” said Brad Rosenberg, manager of digital strategy and marketing at CKE Restaurants.

He said CKE's target demographic is the “young, hungry guy,” and consumers who view smartphones as the hub of social interaction.

“The young, hungry guy's phone is also his calculator, watch, alarm, camera and virtual lighter at concerts,” Rosenberg said.

The challenge in launching a project like Happy Star Rewards is developing uniformity in structure and procedures for all 2,800 Carl's Jr. and Hardee's locations, he added.

CKE will blend the rewards program with its existing marketing efforts on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, the Carlsjr.com and Hardees.com brand Web sites, and its e-mail newsletters. The company will also tie the campaign to TV, radio and direct mail marketing.

“All efforts are merged into the application and literally put into the customer's hand while he is eating a free fry with the other,” Rosenberg said.

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