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    Burger King Launches Loyalty Program

    Fast-food retailer to reward frequent customers for food purchases.


    CHICAGO -- Borrowing a concept from the airlines, Burger King Corp. will reward its loyal Whopper fans with the fast-food version of frequent flyer miles they can cash in on the Internet.

    In the first such loyalty program, the Miami-based company has launched a multi-year partnership with online auctioneer eBay Inc., enabling customers to bid on compact discs, tickets and other rewards using points earned in the impulse-oriented world of burgers and fries, according to Reuters.

    "It's a natural evolution," said Chris Clouser, Burger King's new marketing chief and one of several former Northwest Airlines executives trying to prepare the company for separation from London-based parent Diageo Plc.

    Clouser joined Burger King in April to work under Chief Executive John Dasburg, who was also his boss as the head of Northwest.

    "We have one of the 20 most recognizable brands in the world," Clouser told Reuters. "Quietly, for the last eight months we have been considering all kinds of programs, partnerships and alliances. We're getting into online marketing in a major way."

    In addition to the eBay alliance announced in November, Miami-based Burger King also struck a deal with AOL Time Warner Inc., to give customers access to some of the entertainment giant's numerous Internet sites in exchange for in-store promotion of films and other entertainment.

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