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Culver's launches mobile marketing program

Chain develops iPhone app and text-message campaign

Culver’s, a quick-service hamburger and frozen custard chain, has launched an iPhone app as part of a new cell-phone-based marketing program.

The app, which can be downloaded for free from iTunes, allows customers to learn about restaurant specials and nutritional information, or get driving directions to any of the Prairie du Sac, Wis.-based chain’s 424 restaurants.

David Stidham, Culver’s vice president of marketing, said the app was launched quietly on Sept. 21 and has been downloaded by about 1,800 customers so far. It is now being promoted on the chain’s Facebook page and Twitter account, as well as through its e-mail lists and website,

Stidham said the app’s most popular feature informs customers of their local Culver’s custard “flavor of the day.” The app also allows guests to select their favorite unit so they can keep track of its flavors of the day and see its “five day flavor forecast,” and to find out where a custard flavor of their choice is available.

Users of the app also can view the entire menu and click through to nutritional and allergen information on every item, Stidham said.

Next month, Culver’s said it is launching a national text-message program that will allow customers to send messages with a Culver’s store number and get a text back offering them a free scoop of custard for joining that unit’s list.

That restaurant will then continue send messages to subscribers about special promotions, such as celebrating a local high school team’s victory with a two-for-one custard offer, Stidham said.

Stidham said Culver's is seeing strong early adoption rates in Rockford, Ill., and Grand Rapids, Mich., where the campaign has already been rolled out.

“We’re seeing a very strong list growth,” Stidham said. "In fact, we would anticipate close to a million subscribers within the first year.”

Culver’s is now planning to develop apps for Droid and Blackberry phones, Stidham said.

Contact Bret Thorn at [email protected].

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