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Starbucks is 2012 Mobile Marketer of the Year

Starbucks Corp. is 2012 Mobile Marketer of the Year, the highest accolade in mobile advertising, marketing and media. The honor tops the Mobile Marketer Awards handed out each year for outstanding work that moved the mobile needle for brands and marketers.

There is no doubt Starbucks is a leader and one to watch out for in the mobile space. Instead of following in the steps of competitors, the coffee giant has implemented its own mobile-first strategy that is unlike any other and features the latest technology such as QR codes and augmented reality, as well as traditional channels including SMS, mobile advertising and applications.

?One word sums up Starbucks? work in mobile: sophistication,? said Mickey Alam Khan, editor in chief of Mobile Marketer, New York.

?For Starbucks to be named Mobile Marketer of the Year twice in three years is no mean feat,? he said.
?It shows Starbucks? understanding that mobile is not just the future of marketing, but also retail.?

The Mobile Marketer of the Year award is the most prestigious honor for smart, strategic and creative mobile marketing. Team Obama won the honor in 2008, Polo Ralph Lauren Corp. in 2009, Starbucks Coffee Co. in 2010 and Macy?s in 2011.

What makes Starbucks a clear winner is the company?s comprehensive, 360-degree mobile marketing strategy that offers a number of different functions and creates an ongoing relationship between the brand and its customers.

Instead of putting its focus on one single channel, Starbucks makes sure it has a presence on each and every one.

Take SMS, for example, which is arguably one of the most effective channels marketers can use to build an ongoing dialogue with consumers and drive brand engagement.

Over the past year, Starbucks has used SMS quite a bit, not only to build its My Starbucks Rewards program, but also to keep opted-in consumers in-the-know about the latest offers and discounts.

SMS is at the heart of the coffee giant?s My Starbucks Rewards. To participate, consumers are encouraged to text the keyword GOLD to the short code 697289. 

Furthermore, to drive as many opt-ins as possible, Starbucks has relied on in-store signage and email to help ramp up its SMS program efforts.

Through the My Starbucks Rewards program, consumers can earn rewards when they pay with their Starbucks Card. Free drinks and refills are one of the perks of the program.

In addition to SMS, Starbucks has used QR codes heavily.

The company?s approach to QR codes is quite different than other marketers. Instead of placing them on anything and everything, Starbucks strategically positioned the mobile bar codes where they would be visible to consumers.

To promote its Blonde, Medium and Dark roasts earlier this year, Starbucks placed QR codes on bookmark fliers that were handed out to consumers.

When scanned, the mobile bar codes took coffee lovers to the company?s mobile-optimized site where they were able to watch a video and learn more about the company?s coffee.

Most recently, Starbucks used QR codes to help spread the word out about its Verismo products, as well as let consumers buy the products via their smartphones after they scanned the mobile bar code.

Instead of simply using one interactive technology, such as QR codes, to drive consumer engagement, Starbucks also dipped its toes in augmented reality.

Last year, Starbucks introduced an augmented reality app to bring its holiday red cups to life.

The company continued its push on Valentine?s Day to once again, bring its limited-edition hot cups to life.

The initiative was a smart move on Starbucks? part because it let consumers interact with their coffee cups in a new and interesting way.

Another factor that sets Starbucks apart from other marketers is the company?s involvement in mobile payments. The coffee giant is one of the biggest players in mobile commerce.

Starbucks unveiled its mobile payments and loyalty application in 2010.

Using the Starbucks Card mobile app, consumers can check their balance, reload their card and view transactions.

Initially, the program started with 16 select Starbucks stores in Silicon Valley and Seattle and at any U.S. Target Starbucks store and expanded to 6,800 company-operated stores a year later.

As of November, Howard Schultz, president/CEO of Starbucks, announced the company is seeing more than 2 million mobile payment transactions occur every week.

With its integration in Apple?s Passbook, Starbucks has no doubt proved that it is a leader in the mobile payments space and competitors such as Dunkin? Donuts are following in its footsteps and rolling out their own mobile payments app.

Mobile advertising and mobile apps round out the company?s comprehensive, 360-degree strategy.

For every holiday, occasion and new product, Starbucks uses mobile advertising.

The coffee shop chain realizes the potential of the channel and continues to turn to it to drive in-store traffic, sales and awareness of new products. 

Moreover, the Starbucks has mobile apps on a variety of platforms such as iPhone, iPad and Google Play, which are continuously refreshed to keep consumers up-to-date.

Mobile Advertiser of the Year: McDonald?s
When it comes to mobile advertising, no one does it better than McDonald?s.

While many marketers think static banner ads, which lack in creative, make a mobile advertising campaign effective, McDonald?s thinks outside the box.

What makes the fast food giant stand out is its ongoing drive to offer consumers something new.

To date, McDonald?s has run six iAd campaigns, as well as several rich media and interactive initiatives.

McDonald?s is a clear winner because it is not afraid to try its hand at something new.

Take its iAd campaigns, for example.

While many marketers test out Apple?s iAd only once, McDonald?s has continually tapped the ad network to promote its products and taken advantage of the device?s capabilities to offer a more interactive experience.

McDonald?s has used mobile advertising to promote a variety of products including its CBO sandwiches, extra-value menu items, McRib sandwich, chicken nuggets and  blueberry banana nut oatmeal.

Each mobile advertising campaign was better than the other.

Many times marketers run the same mobile advertising campaigns, which feature the same creative. But that is what sets McDonald?s apart.

When consumers tap on a McDonald?s mobile ad, the experience is like no other.

Earlier this year, the marketer ran a mobile ad campaign that enticed users to try the company?s dollar menu items by playing a word scramble game.

Consumers were encouraged to unscramble words by dragging their fingers across the screen. Each word was associated with an item off of the McDonald?s dollar menu.

In October, McDonald?s incorporated video into its mobile ad initiative, which promoted its 20th Edition Monopoly campaign.

Most recently, McDonald?s dipped its toes in rich media to help spread the word out about its 20-piece chicken nuggets.

When users tapped on the mobile ad they were redirected to a mobile landing page that featured a football field, the company?s chicken nuggets, as well as a screen that continually blasted different messages including ?Grab It,? ?Dunk It? and ?Score.?

From there, consumers were able to learn more about the company?s products, check out current promotions and browse the McDonald?s menu to check out sandwich, salad, snack and beverage items.

It is evident that McDonald?s understands mobile and by constantly running mobile ads, the fast feeder is showing that it is always one step ahead of the game.

Mobile Publisher of the Year: USA Today
USA Today is Mobile Publisher of the Year due to the company?s ongoing investment in the digital and mobile space, as well as a rounded content and media strategy. 

Marketers are continually rolling out mobile sites and apps. However, the mobile strategy stops right there.

It is critical that marketers, especially publishers, continue to refresh content and keep readers on their toes.

This year, USA Today gave its Web site and mobile apps a fresh new look as part of the company?s ongoing effort to make digital and mobile a bigger focus and further solidify its commitment to visual storytelling.

USA Today is Mobile Publisher of the Year because it takes its readers into consideration.

It is important that marketers see what their users are doing on mobile and go from there. And that is exactly what USA Today did.

The publisher redesigned its digital and mobile efforts to include increased color, photos and infographics, as well as new features such as deeper coverage and increased original reporting and video.

Furthermore, USA Today?s Web and tablet products also feature live video coverage, up-to-the second headlines, interactive weather mapping, commentary and user-controls that will let the audience see stories and follow the news the way they want to consume it.

Most recently, the company took its first steps towards building a universal Android app that includes a layout aimed at bolstering readership and increasing engagement.

Moreover, advertiser support is critical for publishers and with the new redesign, USA Today is offering more options for its advertisers.

It is not easy being a publisher in mobile. However, USA Today tackles that gracefully and proves that it is important for publishers to stay up-to-date and constantly refresh content.

Mobile Agency of the Year: R/GA
R/GA is Mobile Agency of the Year due to the creative, strategy and marketing results it brings to clients such as Nike, Grey Goose, Johnson & Johnson, Google Wallet and MasterCard.

The ad agency has helped its clients strengthen their mobile campaigns.

Take Grey Goose for example. The company drove awareness for its Cherry Noir vodka by incorporating Instagram and Pinterest.

With the help of R/GA, Grey Goose launched the Hotel Noir campaign, which featured content that spanned across all of its digital channels.

R/GA also helped L?Oréal Paris develop its Colorist app which takes the guesswork out of choosing the right hair color shade.

The ad agency worked with Johnson & Johnson to help the company celebrate its 10-Year anniversary of the Campaign for Nursing?s Future, a critical initiative for helping to recruit and retain more nurses and nurse educators.

R/GA understands mobile and continues to look at new and innovative ways to help its clients branch out and better target new and existing users. 

Mobile Researcher of the Year: Forrester Research
Forrester Research is Mobile Researcher of the Year for the second year in a row.

What sets Forrester apart from others is the company?s nonstop drive to offer strategic insight on the latest mobile marketing data.

The Cambridge, MA-based market researcher focuses on mobile advertising, marketing, mobile commerce, tablets and social media.

The company?s reports are well-versed and highlight the current state of the mobile space, strides that have been made and what lies ahead.

Instead of simply stating facts and numbers, Forrester focuses on best practice and offers solutions to obstacles marketers may face and how to best solve them.

Mobile Program of the Year: Starbucks My Rewards Program
The Starbucks My Rewards Program is clearly at the heart of its mobile strategy.

Starbucks is all about loyalty and the My Rewards Program takes that to a whole other level.

The coffee shop chain has enlisted in SMS, email, mobile advertising and in-store signage to get consumers to sign-up for its program.

The initiative is the ideal way for the company to build its database and continue an ongoing dialogue with customers.

The Starbucks My Rewards Program is part of the company?s constant effort to drive consumer engagement.

To sign-up for the program, consumers can either text the keyword GOLD to the short code 697289 or go to the company?s mobile site to sign-in or create an account.

When users register their card they can protect their balance in case their card is stolen, earn rewards with each transaction, set up Auto-Reload for their card, view transaction history and transfer balances between their cards.

Furthermore, consumers can also download the My Rewards iPhone and Android application to keep up with their account.

Mobile Campaign of the Year: Taco Bell ?Doritos Locos Tacos?
Taco Bell went all out to promote its Doritos Locos Tacos products.

Simply using one channel was not enough for the Yum Brands-owned fast food giant. Taco Bell used mobile advertising, QR codes, augmented reality and Instagram to help spread the word out.

Taco Bell used augmented reality within its mobile app to promote the company?s Doritos Locos Tacos and elevate the user experience through technology.

Consumers were able to connect with the brand through the app?s Buzz Finder.

Consumers were encouraged to hold their mobile device to Taco Bell's soda cups or the Doritos Locos Tacos box and the products were brought to life.

The fast feeder also placed QR codes on its packaging to offer exclusive content from artists that performed at the Hype Hotel.

Those not attending were still able to view performances by scanning the mobile bar codes featured on the Doritos Locos Tacos holsters, which led users to exclusive video content showcasing performances from the Hype Hotel.

Furthermore, Taco Bell used Apple?s iAd network to roll out a campaign that incorporated social media and location-based technology to drive consumer engagement.

The Taco Bell iAd featured several messages including, ?A base was stolen in the World Series, so America Gets,? ?Stolen=Free Tacos? and ?#FreeDoritosTacos.?

When users tapped on the mobile ad, they were encouraged to get a free taco.

Additionally, the ad let consumers set a reminder by adding the event to their device?s calendar.  

Finally, Taco Bell ran an Instagram campaign that let users win prizes by snapping pictures of their favorite meals.

The Taco Bell Instagram campaign was the last piece of its Doritos Locos Tacos piece.

The campaign encouraged consumers to tag their Taco Bell meals with the hashtag, #livemascontest.

To participate in the campaign, users had to register to enter on Taco Bell?s Web or mobile site by filling out contact information and their Instagram username.

Once registering and submitting a tagged photo, consumers were entered to win grand prizes including a trip to the Taco Bell test kitchen, a $5,000 scholarship towards college or trips to either Pacifica, CA, for surfing lessons or Seoul to visit Taco Bell's South Korea location. Daily prizes include a year?s worth of Doritos Locos Tacos, gift cards and T-shirts.

Mobile Web Site of the Year: USA Today
A mobile site is everything for marketers, especially publishers such as USA Today.

The first step is making sure content is optimized for all devices to provide a better reading experience for users.

As part of its ongoing digital push, USA Today redesigned its mobile site, which definitely takes the user experience into consideration.

The mobile site prominently features several key categories such as News, Money, Sports, Life, Tech, Travel, Photos, Video and Weather, with top headlines underneath.

The optimized site offers readers a seamless experience and uses photos, videos and editorial content efficiently.

In addition, the mobile site incorporates social features such as Facebook and Twitter that lets readers share their favorite articles and other content.

USA Today is smart to redesign its content and try to garner new readership through it.

Mobile Application of the Year: Twitter
As of June, 60 percent of Twitter?s 140 million active users accessed the service through mobile.

Consumers are increasingly accessing their favorite social networks through mobile and Twitter is rapidly becoming a go-to for many.

Twitter?s mobile app is essential for brands, marketers and consumers.

The app features an organized stream of tweets that deliver content to users on media, news and events.

Over the past year, Twitter has been ramping up its mobile apps to better service its ever-growing user base.

When Apple rolled out its iPhone 5, Twitter upgraded its application to make the user interface friendlier.

Social and mobile inherently complement each other and Twitter is constantly looking at ways to incorporate new features into its apps to better accommodate users.

Mobile Evangelist of the Year: Mondel?z International?s B. Bonin Bough
There are many industry experts who have had an impact in the emerging mobile space authoring books and reports, and logging frequent flier miles to tout mobile?s virtues at events worldwide.

Mr. Bough has taken huge strides to cement Mondel?z International?s position in mobile and expand the company?s reach in the space. His commitment to mobile: put money where his mouth is.

The executive recently announced the company?s Mobile Futures program that aims to collaborate with mobile startups.

Mr. Bough, a former Pepsi Co. executive, is making a commitment to transform Mondel?z International into an innovator in the mobile space.

Furthermore, Mr. Bough has helped in allocating 10 percent of Mondel?z International?s global marketing budget to mobile activations and channels across the entire consumer journey.

Mr. Bough has spoken at many industry events and is continuing to show marketers that mobile is no longer an add-on, but a necessity.

The Mobile Marketer Awards were judged by the Mobile Marketer editorial team for overall excellence in mobile advertising, marketing and media from a strategic, creative, tactical, executional and results standpoint. All work considered had to be published in Mobile Marketer in 2012. All judging was based purely on merit.

Final Take
Rimma Kats is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York