As some of you are likely (painfully) aware, today is April Fool's Day. There was talk around the Barcode News office of fabricating some sort of April Fools! article. But this morning at 930am someone who pays me on the first of every month knocked on the door and said, “I'm so sorry, but I'm only going to be able to give you half from now on.” She let it go on for a few minutes to let the horror of it really sink in, then rapturously shouted, “April Fools!” At this moment I realized that the only good thing about April Fools is the relief you feel when you realize that it was just a trick; akin to the relief you feel upon waking from a nightmare. I couldn't do this to you, Dear Reader.
Then I got to thinking about a Quilted Northern QR Code I scanned in Real Simple magazine. The QR code resolves to a commercial with the woman pictured in the print ad talking about how 'clean' the toilet paper gets her and her family. Clean? Seriously? After wasting my time scanning that ad, I wish someone had jumped out and shouted “April Fools!” The horror of this QR code usage is two-fold. First of all, the crappy marketing message... (sorry, couldn't help it). Second, when I take the time to pull out my phone and scan a QR Code, I expect to be rewarded. Give me interesting content, a coupon, anything but more blatant advertising. A video version of the ad I am already looking at in a magazine is like a slap in the face. Unfortunately, this ad and many like it are not jokes; there is no comic relief following a poorly executed QR code resolve, just wasted time and irritated consumers.
Next time I am shopping for toilet paper, I am going to see Quilted Northern, relive the experience of having been tricked into watching their crappy commercial and I am going to choose another brand.
Another magazine I read and scan religiously, is Surfing Magazine. One brand that knows how to wield a QR code campaign is Hurley. No jokes here, Dear Reader, just killer content. There is an ad for Hurley board shorts. It is a two-page spread with only a simple stylistic photo of the shorts, the logo and the QR Code. Now, I wear bikinis—not board shorts—but I still scan the 2D code. I do this because I know from experience that Hurley is going to reward me for doing so. This time was no different. The code resolves to a mobile site with different video categories. Thirty seconds after scanning the code, I am watching Evan Geiselman in all his glory, surfing the wave of his life, narrating in his sexy, cool-without-trying voice-over. Surfers love to watch surf videos. Hurley knows this about their target market, and they deliver good content. This builds brand loyalty.
The moral of the story here is this: like many an April Fools joke, bad QR code content does more harm than good.
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