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QR Codes

August 16th, 2011   By   Filed Under: Everyone, Interesting, Weird and Wonderful

My experience so far with QR codes has been disappointing. I just don’t seem to have seen one that has made me go ‘Wow!’ or been that breakthrough idea where they are really adding value or improving the customer experience.

A recent example comes from a poster I saw in London which I presume was advertising a band’s new album. I say ‘I presume’ as all that was there was the band’s name (which I have forgotten) and then a massive QR code which, in normal music marketing, would be replaced with a picture of the album cover or the band itself (the skinnier the jeans the better) with various comments and star ratings.

I rather cynically assumed that the brands marketer thought, “Hey, you know what? Mostly kids and teens like this band and they are cool and down with new tech, let’s just whack a great QR code on the poster and that will be ground breaking”. No it wasn’t in my opinion. I have no idea what band’s poster I am talking about, whether they have a new album or a new tour and I have no idea what message they were trying to spread other than “We’re not trying to talk to you”.

Had I been able to scan and use the code there and then I could report back on whether they had done something clever, useful, fun or new with the QR code – maybe a free download of an album track (is that innovative?). Alas, when I say I was in London more specifically I was on the Tube so I had no network coverage to find out there and then and wasn’t moved enough to save it for later.

Admittedly I may not have been the target audience for the band. However, at best it was a strange piece of advertising placement (how many people really stopped on a busy tube platform to take a picture of the code to save for later?) and at worst it excluded a large part of an audience. It only really proved that QR codes are popping up everywhere and often where they aren’t really the right tool.

One thing that has intrigued me as very useful (to the marketer not the consumer) is the ability to track this poster’s performance with a specific number of people that have scanned and followed the QR code to wherever it sent people. That is another topic entirely though.

I’m still interested in QR codes and looking forward to the one that blows me away. If you tried the QR code at the top of this blog you’ve probably realised it wont be me making the breakthrough!

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Leave a comment (9)


  1. Duncan says:

    I think the band you refer to are Chase and Status. I pass the poster every day on my ride to work. Still haven’t slowed down to scan it though ;-)

  2. Rob says:

    Brilliant, thanks for letting us know! I’m going to keep an eye out for it and scan it. I just tweeted @chaseandstatus as well to see if they can tweet the QR code , will let you know if they do…

  3. Parb says:

    Until the ability of being able to read QRCodes gets backed into photo apps (or other apps that could take advantage of one-off offers, i.e. buy a bottle of coke, scan QR code under lid, instantly win coke edition of angry birds! etc) I think it’ll always stay on the periphery of wonderful things that never find a reason to be in wider use.

  4. Laura says:

    The best (read worst) QR codes are the ones that flash up on TV in an ad break. Who is a) going to have time to get their phone out, find app then scan in 3 seconds or b) pausing to scan if (assuming you have the facility to do that in the first place…)

  5. Duncan says:

    While yes this is in its infancy I reckon given time it will become widely used. Where the US leads we always follow http://www.marketingpilgrim.com/2011/08/home-is-where-the-qr-code-i.html

  6. Rob says:

    And sure enough, in the comscore research into QR codes (June 2011), up pops posters 4th in the list of where the QR code was found and public tranpsort (or outside) 5th on the list of where the QR code was scanned! http://dyln.it/myn

  7. Rob says:

    Thanks to having the Chase and Status link I have found the QR code, you can check it out here http://dyln.it/bmy
    Still waiting for the breakthrough.

  8. Seb says:

    I think the issue is that not all consumers actually know what they are for or have the App. The knock on effect is that Marketeers don’t really know why they are using them yet either.

  9. Julian Johnson says:

    Interesting article Rob, especially considering our recent advert in Revolution and Marketing Week.

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