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Burger King pushes for product awareness via mobile ads

Fast food chain Burger King is triggering in-store traffic with a mobile advertising campaign that encourages consumers to try a new product for themselves by finding a nearby store.

The mobile banner ad promotes the fast food giant?s partnership with Cinnabon on a new line of pastries available at Burger King. The Burger King mobile campaign is running within ESPN?s mobile site.

"From a consumer psychology perspective, the Burger King mobile ad campaign is smart, meaningful and well thought-out," said Isabella Lin, content director at Appitalism, New York.

"When people who watch the sports game subconsciously think they should eat a dessert or snack, they can see the ad in a completely relaxed state of mind," she said. "This Burger King mobile ad campaign could even move someone who does not like Cinnabon Minibon rolls much but might try it once in a while as they are in the right state of mind and mood of the moment."

"The banner ad shows appropriate imagery, a link to the menu and fresh offers. But since you can't actually order the item from the ad itself, it means they will likely miss 50 percent of users who would have wanted it. On the other hand, users watching a sports game most likely would not have to take a break to learn about Cinnabon Minibon Rolls."

Ms. Lin is not affiliated with Burger King. She commented based on her expertise on the subject.

Burger King did not respond to press inquiries by deadline.

Mobile promotion
The banner ads features both the Burger King and Cinnabon logos with a picture of the new cinnamon rolls.

When tapped on, the ad directs users to Burger King?s mobile site, which automatically asks if it is OK to use a mobile device?s built-in GPS.

From there, consumers can learn about the Cinnabon Minibon Rolls and find offers at nearby stores.

Additionally, users can browse the menu and sign up for Burger King?s email and SMS programs.

Links to Burger King?s Facebook, Twitter and Google + accounts are prominently featured at the bottom of the page.

A mobile campaign such as this one works on a few different levels.

Since the company is using the mobile ads to promote a meal, driving in-store traffic is the ultimate goal. Therefore, using a store locator and location-based offers is key in helping Burger King close the loop on sales.

Additionally, using location to drive traffic to a particular store can be effective at increasing incremental same-store sales.

Furthermore, using the banner ad to specifically promote new products is a great way to build brand awareness.

Mobile past
Burger King has steadily been building up its mobile repertoire lately.

Most recently, the company began piloting mobile payments to let users buy food through their mobile devices by scanning a QR code on restaurant counters and drive-up windows. The initiative is taking place in approximately 50 Burger King locations in and around Salt Lake City, UT (see story).

Additionally, the company ran a trial of a commerce-enabled iPhone app in 2009 in the Queens, NY area (see story).

When it comes to mobile advertising, Burger King is only one of many quick-service restaurants using the channel. Other big players in the space include McDonald?s, Taco Bell, KFC, Subway, Papa John's, Domino's and Wendy?s.

Although mobile payments are being trialed by a couple of big brands, the technology is not being used at a sizable number of locations, making the ultimate goal of mobile to drive in-store traffic.

"Relevance is the key  ? mobile users think and decide spontaneously, in the moment they need it," Ms. Lin said.

"If they can improve the participation rate for these kind of small purchases, they would be going even further into the user's life," she said.

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is associate reporter on Mobile Marketer, New York