Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Not a Fan of QR Codes? Heinz® Ketchup and Trivial Pursuit-TM May Change Your Mind!

If you're in marketing, then you know what a QR Code is. If you're not, QR Codes (or quick response codes) are the weird square bar codes you occasionally see on products or advertising. They take a special reader (most likely downloaded on your smart phone) to scan and read them.

I've never been a big fan of QR Codes. To me, they've always been confusing and clunky. They were a quick fad with marketers who saw them as a cool new tool. However, it was never made easy enough for the mainstream public to really catch on. First, you had to download a reader, but not all worked well, so it could be hit or miss if it would actually read the code. Second, I don't think most brands provided any real value once someone did get to the content from the code. A lot of brands just used it to take you to their website...what a waste! The one use that works well is with the entertainment industry. They have the ability to offer exclusive content to their fans, but I haven't even seen them utilized much there either.
I had pretty much given up on finding any mainstream uses for QR Codes...until a recent trip to Ann Arbor. My wife and I went to a restaurant for lunch and I happened to look at the Heinz Ketchup bottle on the table. On the front, it said "Up for a game?" with Trivial Pursuit. We both like trivia, so I picked it up to see what it was. I turned it over and there was a QR Code staring at me. It had simple instructions "Scan the code to start the fun!". So, I did. It brought you to a website ( where you could play a game of Trivial Pursuit on your phone (3 rounds of 6 questions). After, customers can share their experience on Facebook or Twitter. Some restaurants offer a reward once you play.
I have to admit that I love this use of QR Codes! The whole point is to entertain families in the time between placing your order until your food comes. The hope is that this will increase customer satisfaction and encourage repeat business. I can't say if it will actually increase repeat business (especially if it catches on at multiple restaurants), but the game itself if fun, easy and absolutely fills the wait time. Bottom line is that it works. Could they have just listed the website? I guess, but the code is part of the whole experience!

Have you seen other mainstream uses of QR Codes that you've been impressed with? Tell us about them. Maybe you'll get me on board with thinking that they could catch on after all. Quick side note: Scott Stratten has written a book called "QR Codes Kill Kittens" that I can't wait to read. I think he has a similar view of QR Codes as I do (this Heinz example aside). Look for a review of the book in the coming months.

Thanks for reading and please share this post with your friends! Also, if you're attending Content Marketing World in Cleveland, let me know. I'd love to meet and talk a little marketing!

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