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O2 customers glug free M&S smoothies in location-based promo

If you're signed up to the O2 More service, you'll be sent a text message when you're near a branch of Marks & Spencer offering a free drink (with foody strings attached).

Phones

Feeling thirsty? Marks & Spencer is doling out free smoothies to O2 mobile customers signed up to the O2 More service. Simply walk past a participating branch of the quintessential British retailer and your phone will buzz with a voucher in a text. Oh, and you'll have to buy a sandwich or a salad.

It's the latest example of location-based marketing here in the UK, with M&S signing up for O2's You Are Here initiative.

Both companies are careful to stress this isn't a spam smoothie. You'll only get a text if you've registered an interest in food and drink, or clothing, when you signed up to O2 More.

Not aware of it? O2 More is the operator's service that gets customers to register to receive text, MMS and email offers from companies such as Microsoft (for Xbox 360), Adidas and the AA.

"Mobile is already an incredibly important channel for us with over 2 million people shopping at M&S on their mobile phone last year," boasts M&S' online marketing manager Nicky Fouhy.

You Are Here uses a technology called geo-fencing to create virtual boundaries around shops and venues, which can be triggered when customers cross them. It triangulates your location using your cell ID rather than GPS, so you don't need a fancy-schmancy smart phone to take part.

M&S will be giving it a go for six months with different offers. O2 says none of the companies it works with actually get your mobile number -- it's all handled through the network.

Expect to hear lots more about location-based marketing this year here in the UK. It won't all work like O2's service though -- social-location app Foursquare is also working with shops, restaurants and bars to offer deals and discounts when you check in.

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