Fans of iconic Blizzard eat up new Dairy Queen interactive site

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Berkshire Hathaway's ice cream retail group International Dairy Queen is bringing frozen treats to interactive digital marketing with the redesign of its Blizzard Fan ClubWeb site.

The site at www.blizzardfanclub.com, which celebrates its signature dessert, the Blizzard, was the product of Dairy Queen and Minneapolis-headquartered digital agency Spaceland 50. It features videos of Artis "The Spoonman," a musician who plays red spoons, the iconic tool used to eat a Blizzard. The new site is the first step in a multiphase initiative to evolve the existing Blizzard fan community into an online community.

"We wanted to enhance the online experience for our fan club, and make it more of a brand experience rather than just a corporate site with information about products," said Tim Hawley, vice president of marketing and communications at International Dairy Queen, Minneapolis. "The red spoon that comes with the blizzard is a big icon for people who eat blizzards and we thought that this was a fun way to entertain our fans in a way that complemented the blizzard." On the site, visitors will find videos of Spoonman, who has played alongside Aerosmith, been featured in a Soundgarden song, and been a guest on "The Late Show" with David Letterman, playing spoons to various TM genres of music from blues and classical to country and punk. The videos are designed to send virally in order to build on word-of-mouth marketing.

In addition to "SpoonTones", the Blizzard Fan Club, which has almost 1.4 million members, can interact with various social networking components. The "Blizzualizer" is a page where members can mix Blizzard ingredients such as products or instruments, upload photos and music, and then turn these elements into a Blizzard.

"The videos give a quick online fix that is entertaining and fun that Dairy Queen fans can engage with and share with their friends," Hawley remarked. On the "Behind the Blizzard" page, visitors can learn the history of the Blizzard, watch old commercials and learn how they are made.

The loyalty fan club gives members incentives including an online coupon for a buy one-get-one-free 16 oz Blizzard, a birthday greeting that comes with a two-for-one coupon, monthly e-mail updates on new flavors, details about in-store Blizzard events and a platform to share new blizzard flavor ideas with Dairy Queen and other fanatics.

"This site is really aimed at our loyal customers who love Dairy Queen, to give them a chance to feel appreciated and to extend the in-store experience to the online community," Hawley said.

The Blizzard Fan ClubWeb site was originally launched in 2005 to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Dairy Queen's signature treat. The relaunch of the Blizzard Fan ClubWeb site follows Dairy Queen's recent relaunch of www.dairyqueen.com, another online destination with interactive elements.

Other fast food chains using social networking include Taco Bell and Pizza Hut.

"We are a smaller player in our field, competing against McDonalds, so it is important that we make the experience engaging and let customers connect us with good memories that they have shared with their friends at our store," Hawley added.

A fully developed social networking site is expected to launch in early 2008.This site will let users create profiles, make friends with other users and share the Blizzard experience through interactive games.

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