The only blanket term that could be applied to exhibitors at The National Stationery Show is diverse. From the overtly hip to the decidedly square; all sanctions in between are represented. Although the truth of what I am about to say has reached cliché proportions, I nevertheless find it to be categorically true: The cool factor of a brand is directly proportional to its QR Code usage. (In the case of larger companies this postulate applies not necessarily to the brand's cool factor but that of its marketing team).
This postulate reached axiom proportions at the NSS. The number of QR codes employed could be counted on one hand—one very cutting-edge hand.
The company most invested in 2D barcodes was DYNOMIGHTY, the makers of the Mighty Wallet. Every card carrying hipster the world over is carrying or wishes they carried one of these Tyvek wallets. Essentially the 'Swatch of wallets', the Mighty Wallet is cool, innovative and green. Since its made of strong Tyvek micro fibers, it looks like paper, but it is tear-resistant, water-resistant and ecological. Tyvek microfiber is made from 100% HDPE (high-density polyethylene), the second most commonly recycled plastic. 25% of the Tyvek material is recycled and it can be recycled as well.
The QR Code on the cover of the product catalog I received at the show resolves to the wholesale order site. The code itself was integrated into the actual layout of the catalog rather than slapped on as an afterthought. This is a practice that other companies would do well to adopt. Marring the design of your materials in order to be 'cool' is the opposite of cool. The QR code should be considered as a design element in the concepting phase.
Even the product barcodes for DYNOMIGHTY are unique. Rather than the traditional rectangular barcode, the company uses a more architectural perimeter—on that was still scannable by my Red Laser app.
While the use of QR code on printed materials is impressive, where DYNOMIGHTY really set themselves apart with QR Codes was on TV. At the end of their TV ad, DYNOMIGHTY encourages viewers to “pause it, scan it and get it.” The Mighty Wallet® TV Ad was created with a simple $200 point and shoot camera. The QR code technology was from a free service and the entire ad was edited on a MacBook Pro laptop using iMovie and narrated by the designer, Terrence Kelleman, himself using his iPhone for a total budget of less than $1500.
But how can a small business afford the high costs of traditional TV advertising? By employing the Google TV Ad platform that uses an auction based system to sell extra TV Ad inventory on networks such as The Dish Network, DirecTV and soon Verizon Fios. The total reach by end of Summer 2011 will cover approximately 30% of all viewers in the US. The average cost of one 30 sec Mighty Wallet® TV ad on The Daily Show cost Dynomighty $175 and reached approximately 360K viewers.
The Google TV Ad platform allows advertisers to target specific shows, channels and even air times. With this targeting capacity The Mighty Wallet® TV Ad was actually customized for specific channels by showing different styles of Mighty Wallets® in the roll up to the call-to-action that were targeted to the specific demographics of that particular show or channel. These targeted ads reached millions of viewers over the past 6 months making the entire campaign very effective.
“By combining (an) effective creative with Google TV Ads’ unique targeting and measurement capabilities, we’ve found a winning combination.” says Terrence Kelleman.
But just how effective is it? DYNOMIGHTY reports that since the TV ad with the QR code ran, sales are up 400%. DYNOMIGHTY has now become a case study of the Google TV Ad network. The nationwide campaign broadened the brand awareness of the Mighty Wallet® and had an immediate effect on sales. Consumers and store buyers alike were ordering the Mighty Wallet® in numbers never before seen with 63% of the respondents mentioning the TV Ad.
Innovation pays off after all, it seems. The QR code itself may be square, but its proponents are anything but. How long will it take for the squares to catch on to the power of the physical/digital connection generated by the QR code?
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