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Agile Computing Authors: Liz McMillan, Elizabeth White, John Basso, Pat Romanski, Kevin Benedict

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Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurants 40th Anniversary Website Using Interactive Technology to Engage, Entertain Guests

In the wake of its most ambitious promotional campaign in its 40-year history, Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurants Inc. is going “all in” – engaging and entertaining its guests with a anniversary-themed website featuring as much innovation, as it does excitement – as part of a high-energy brand revival aimed at inviting people to experience its freshly-prepared American Italian food.

Located at 40years.meatballs.com, the website is the centerpiece of a six-month promotional campaign that employs a fully integrated communications strategy to celebrate Spaghetti Warehouse’s 40th anniversary. The Dallas-based restaurant chain – known as a unique gathering place where every meal is a celebration – operates 16 locations in Texas, Florida, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania and Tennessee.

Seeking an opportunity to use technology as a solution for connecting with its guests in a memorable way, the restaurant chain teamed with two Indiana-based companies – Z Marketing Partners (ZMP), a marketing communications agency headquartered in Indianapolis and Anedix Technologies Inc. of Terre Haute, Ind. Together, they partnered to create a new microsite using a mix of proprietary software applications and technology/social media platforms such as WordPress™, Flickr™, and Facebook™.

The site is a hit, generating an increase in visitor traffic online while, at the same time, attracting guests to its restaurants to sample items from its new 40th anniversary menu and connect with the brand through a host of activities, including a recently-completed online photo album contest and nationwide Trolley Tour. At the same time, the Spaghetti Warehouse social media presence is increasing dramatically, with a 250 percent increase in Facebook fans in little more than a year.

“When our guests visit us, we want their experience to go far beyond just enjoying a meal together,” said Azam Malik, president and chief operating officer, Spaghetti Warehouse Restaurants Inc. “We want it to be memorable in a way they will follow us online, participate in promotions and share with their family and friends the good times they’ve enjoyed with us.”

Upon opening the site, visitors are treated to an arcade-like mix of illuminating graphics, splashed in the restaurant chain’s trademark red-and-white colors while a song – created specifically for the anniversary – automatically begins to play, thanks to a uniquely-prepared Java script using any device, including desktops and laptops, as well as on an iPhone or Android smart phone.

In a clever use of technology, the two companies – ZMP and Anedix – promoted activities, such as the online photo album. They were able to integrate Facebook and Flickr through the use of an automated system capable of processing photos while avoiding duplicate images. As a result, each photo upload was identified with a one-of-a-kind ‘signature’ similar to the license key often used to authenticate a software program.

A mobile platform for the website was also created, encouraging the participation of guests while dining at the restaurant and allowing for the upload of celebration photos to the online photo album and featuring key events from the event calendar.

For all of its innovation, the campaign also has enabled Spaghetti Warehouse to strengthen its brand presence using social media channels, including Facebook and Twitter. In response, its growing legion of nearly 70,000 Facebook fans and 110,000 e-Club members are actively downloading coupons, visiting the restaurant and enjoying the fun inside its downtown, historic brick structures while taking advantage of a great value.

“Our website…with all of its innovation illustrates in a remarkable way how a smaller restaurant group, like Spaghetti Warehouse, can use advanced technology to strengthen our brand and enable our guests to enjoy our food while enjoying each other’s company just as you would over the dinner table,” added Malik.

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