Coupon 2.0: The Best and Worst Campaign Deals on Foursquare

Clickz drops the knowledge: For the last several months, big brands have been consistently unveiling special offers on location-based services like Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, Booyah, and others. We’ve seen percentage-based discounts on purchases, dollars off, restaurant loss-leaders like appetizers and drinks, and sometimes even free meals.

After poring over as many offers as we could find, ClickZ News has determined that some brands are clearly sticking their necks out farther than others in the still emerging geo-social marketing arena. Below are the five best and five worst campaign deals we discovered in an admittedly unscientific research project. Our lists were judged based on a simple standard: estimated monetary value of the offers, and how few check-ins they require.

The Best

1. Paul Frank
Gowalla & Loopt Check Ins Get 20 Percent Off

paul-frank-looptPaul Frank has been offering patrons who check in at any of its six U.S. stores a 20 percent discount on their total purchase. While the offer doesn’t include purchases of bikes, already discounted items, and eyewear, what makes Paul Frank’s commitment to the medium particularly stand out is the fact that the sizable discount is available on both Gowalla and Loopt.

By utilizing two location-based services and presenting a low-threshold for participation (a single check in), the Costa Mesa, CA-based casual wear brand obviously wants a geo-social customer base. It’s not dilly-dallying around. The clothing designer and retailer’s month-long promotion ends on Aug. 19.

2. Ann Taylor
Up to 25 Percent Off Full Price Items

Ann Taylor shoppers on Foursquare who check in five times to one of the company’s eight New York City stores have been getting 15 percent off their full-price purchases. That’s a strong incentive for customers to participate in the program because they can get a healthy discount without becoming mayor of a location.

Of course, mayors get an even better deal, receiving 25 percent off their purchases of non-sale apparel and accessories. For a higher-end retailer that likely has a healthy in-store average order size, both the regular check-ins and mayors will be saving a significant sum on women’s fashions. While Ann Taylor is reportedly expected to roll-out Foursquare initiatives nationwide, the brand hasn’t revealed its plans.

3. Gap
25 Percent Off For 2nd Check In

Gap has been using Loopt to offer a 25 percent discount for users that check in twice at one of the retailer’s locations. Since June 1, as part of the rewards program called Loopt Star, Gap store patrons have been able to present a digital code to get the discount. Underscoring the brand’s commitment, Sam Altman, CEO of the Mountain View, CA-based Loopt, said that “every Gap in the U.S.” was participating in the campaign.

4.Domino’s U.K.
Foursquare Mayors Get Fed Free Pizzas


Foursquare mayors for the quick-serve giant’s 553 England and Ireland locations are rewarded a medium pizza once a week on a designated day. What’s more, users who simply check in get free breadsticks.

Interestingly, Domino’s has gotten a quick return on investment from Foursquare after implementing the program with the geo-location service in late May. “We’ve had nearly 10,000 check ins since it launched from around 3,500 unique visitors,” Georgina Wald, spokesperson for the London-based division, said last month.

5. Sports Authority
Swinging for the Fences with $10 Cash Cards

Sports Authority has been offering $10 cash cards for mayors on Foursquare at stores nationwide. The offer requires a purchase greater than $10 to use the card.

Impressively, all of the Denver, CO-based brand’s 463 retail stores have been participating, making for a large-scale campaign.

The Worst

Below are the five least-lucrative deals ClickZ has seen in location-based space. They are listed from the worst to the least worst.

A Quiz That’s No Skin Off Skincare Brand’s Back


Olay has been leveraging Booyah’s “MyTown” service whenever one of the location-based game’s 2.5 million users check-in at pharmacies and other stores that sell skin products. The users have been served quizzes that, in the end, produce a specific skin care recommendation from the multi-billion-dollar P&G brand’s product line.

Interactive product recommendations are cool and all, but this seems like a classic missed opportunity. Why not reward the person – who has stopped what she’s doing to take the quiz – with some kind of special offer? The reward in the experience could truly be greater.

2.Pizza Hut
Let Them Eat Breadsticks

Domino’s U.K. is making rival Pizza Hut look bad on Foursquare. Pizza Hut is only awarding a single order of bread sticks to its mayors – and only if they first order a large pizza.

No free pizza like at Domino’s. No free breadsticks for single check-ins, either. Indeed, people who go through the effort of becoming mayor get only single orders of breadsticks.

It doesn’t seem like much of a serious play or dedicated testing investment by Pizza Hut. Because of the relatively stingy offer, it may even be bad branding.

3. Burger King
Free Drinks Lack Zip

Foursquare users that check in three times to Burger Kings around New York City and New Jersey have been getting a free coffee or soda with a qualifying sandwich purchase. Not only does this promotion seem like a low-risk loss-leader, it also appears to be an awful lot like a newspaper coupon offer that could be clipped and redeemed without any prior visits to a location. Burger King seems to be meekly dipping its toe in the location-based pool.

4. Starbucks
The Buck Stops With Mayors

fivebucksStarbucks in June offered mayors of each location $1 off their Frappucinos. The promo was part of the coffee retailer’s “however-you-want-it Frappucino” campaign. A grand majority of Starbucks’ 11,000 U.S. locations participated, according to the Seattle-based company.

Given Starbucks’ generally very good foot traffic and its tech-savvy crowd, one would think that offering more potential monetary value to each check in would be in order. Or perhaps an all-together free Frappucino for the mayor would seem like a bigger and better commitment to the platform? Only $1 off for the mayors is a surprisingly small play from a brand that’s otherwise known for social media savvy. Wouldn’t droves of Starbucks customers begin following the brand on Foursquare if they were lured with more monetary incentive, especially in a tenuous economy?

On the other hand, the coffee retailer may believe that there’s no bottom-line incentive to cut prices more significantly – even for one mayor per each location – when there is often a continuous stream of business professionals and hipsters coming through its doors.

5. Chili’s Grill & Bar
Free Chips, but Where’s the Mayoral Love?

Chili’s is offering free chips and salsa for every Foursquare check in at its more than 800 locations nationwide. While it’s certainly more of a commitment than Pizza Hut’s breadsticks-only-for-mayors play, there’s no reward for mayors in this case at all. Though the restaurant chain deserves some credit for introducing the location-based platform to its customers, it is only going halfway with the program by offering no special incentive for mayors.

About Fallon