Capitalizing on the attention generated from its racy Paris Hilton spot, CKE Restaurants is positioning its sites as popular entertainment destinations for young males. The newly launched home pages for the burger chains resemble the living room of a bachelor pad, where all things cool among young men are at their fingertips.
Products from Motorola are placed within the room, and an Olevia-branded flat-screen TV hanging on the wall continuously showcases trailers for upcoming movies from Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema-not to mention the Paris Hilton commercial. Video games from game publishers THQ, Namco and Ubisoft. Napster, Vans and Maxim also advertise their wares on the site. A deal with a video-game-console maker is in the works. The site also incorporates interactive features such as a wallet that includes a Club Paris napkin with a phone number that when called spouts funny rejections via GotRejected.com, an online voice-mail service sponsored by Vonage.
Interactive design firm Spacedog, Los Angeles, created the sites and negotiated the product placements. So far, the plugs have not been paid placements, and have instead been made in exchange for content or product.
The sites are all part of CKE's long-term strategy to make the Internet its primary marketing medium. "We wanted to create a lifestyle-oriented site that would put people in an idealized young male consumer's world," said Brad Haley, exec VP-chief marketing officer for both brands.
"We knew we didn't just want to put up a Web site that offered a menu and restaurant locater," said Dustin Callif, VP-operations of Spacedog. "We wanted to come up with something that really extended the brand."
The product-placement partnerships go beyond cameo appearances on the site. Several brands will launch cross-promotions with product sweepstakes on a regular basis to keep visitors coming back. In the coming weeks, Carl's Jr. and Hardee's will help Motorola launch its A360 flip-top phone, visitors can win an Olevia TV or Vans apparel. In two weeks, Napster will launch an exclusive offer to try its Napster to Go concept for mobile downloads.
Spacedog is now pursuing deeper promotions that would include tagging on ads, in-store displays and media relations. With films, the agency hopes to tie into premieres with special screenings and tickets.
Only a month old, the sites are already developing a track record for its partners, with Syntax Groups Corp., the maker of Olevia LCD TVs, enjoying a boost in traffic to its own site through CarlsJr.com.
The sites are also feeding CKE Restaurants' databases and serves as a mini market-research lab to see which features drive more buzz and more coupon downloads. More important, it's giving the marketer an experimental playground for nontraditional marketing.
"As anybody in the industry is well aware now, traditional broadcast advertising's days are numbered," Mr. Haley said. "For a fraction of our overall media budget, we can have a sizable Web presence," he added.