ARCHIVES: This is legacy content from before Marketing Dive acquired Mobile Marketer in early 2017. Some information, such as publication dates, may not have migrated over. Check out the new Marketing Dive site for the latest marketing news.

Nathan?s Famous heats up mobile engagement via Coney Island virtual tour

Nathan?s Famous is tapping into the popular trend of mobile gamification with an optimized microsite that takes users to a virtual Coney Island, enabling them to earn tickets toward prizes by answering trivia, taking amusement park rides and playing boardwalk games.

Smithfield Foods? hot dog brand is celebrating its hundredth anniversary by showcasing its Ticket to Fun loyalty program in an engaging light and allowing mobile users to explore a branded microsite, which is powered by HelloWorld. Upon registering for the site or entering ticket codes found on Nathan?s Famous product packages, consumers can kick off their summer fun by virtually visiting New York landmark and iconic host spot of Nathan?s Hot Dog Eating Contest, Coney Island.

?Nathan?s Famous Coney Island offers key Nathan?s summer moments using responsive design,? said Darrin Brege, vice president and creative director of HelloWorld. ?For example, as users play the iconic Nathan?s Famous Hot Dog Eating Contest in the virtual world, it is just as engaging on a smartphone or tablet as it is on the microsite.

?Any element of the park works on any device and has the authenticity of Coney Island. No matter where you go, you can get the feeling of Coney Island and engage with the brand's two iconic restaurant locations on the Boardwalk and at Stillwell and Surf.?

A mobile-ready amusement park
Nathan?s Famous is grilling up excitement for the summer ? and for its barbecue-ready products ? by introducing a mobile-optimized campaign microsite that gives users a plethora of ways to earn loyalty points.

Consumers can visit on their smartphones or desktops and register to use the site, which will also make them eligible for the brand?s Ticket to Fun rewards program.

Once they have entered the site, individuals can take a tour of the virtual Coney Island amusement park, or enter in codes found on specially marked Nathan?s Famous products to immediately begin earning loyalty tickets.

Mobile users may use the menu on the left-hand side to help navigate around the park. They can choose to ride the Ferris wheel or Cyclone roller coaster, answer daily trivia questions at the Nathan?s Famous hot dog stand or compete to earn instant win prizes at the boardwalk games stand.

After consumers have accumulated a significant amount of loyalty tickets, they can visit the gift shop portion of the site, where they may redeem the tickets for a chance to win one of the grand prizes ? which include a New York City weekend getaway and a VIP racing weekend ? or any of the merchandise prize packs.

These include options such as a branded beach towel, grill tool set and picnic blanket.

The interactive microsite is likely to bring in a slew of new customer acquisitions ? as well as an influx of loyalty program sign-ups ? for Nathan?s Famous.

?Though the 'Ticket to Fun' loyalty program was designed to reward loyal fans of Nathan?s Famous, this is a perfect time to bring in new or light customers as well,? said Mike Paribello, senior director of marketing at Smithfield Foods. ?The multi-activation program brings a fresh perspective on our 100-year-old brand, especially with the virtual Coney Island world being the centerpiece of it all. 

?The engagement all summer long definitely encourages new customers to become long-term fans."

The right time frame
Rolling out the mobile-optimized campaign site now ? several weeks ahead of Memorial Day weekend ? ensures that Nathan?s Famous will capitalize on the many consumers prepping for various backyard parties and get-togethers.

Boosting consumer engagement ahead of Memorial Day, a major holiday for barbecuing and grilling, is a smart move for hot dog brands.

Last year, Ball Park ramped up marketing prior to Memorial Day weekend by introducing a Finest Franks Hotline where users could call, text and Tweet for advice on hot dog grilling topics, as well as a social media contest to win a year?s supply of frankfurters, while Nathan?s Famous ran a selfie sweepstakes on Twitter for consumers to win weekly and monthly prizes (see story).

Additionally, the microsite's mobile gamification elements will also likely cinch higher brand engagement for Nathan?s Famous, particularly among younger consumers.

?The nature of mobile gamification encourages ongoing engagement and offers a relevant and modern way to reward consumers,? said Janice Pollard, content and public relations director at HelloWorld. ?For food and restaurant marketers, mobile gamification can increase how much time consumers spend interacting with the brand and ideally, the brand becomes more strongly associated with innovation, enjoyment, and reward.

?The Nathan's Famous Coney Island Lunch Rush game can be played while visiting an actual Nathan's restaurant, giving consumers the chance to put themselves in the shoes of a Nathan?s chef and compete against others on a global leaderboard throughout the campaign.?