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QR codes have become impossible to avoid. They swarm every part of our advertising space, including the likes of bus stops, newspapers and even cereal boxes. They entice us to scan them with our phones where we are often lead to some quirky advertising campaign on the web.
However, many technology critics believe companies are simply using QR codes for popularity, which often results in rushed, uncreative and uninspiring campaigns with no particular benefit for the user. And to a certain extent, I would have to agree with them.
The overuse of QR codes seems to be a last ditch effort from companies with the simple mind set of “hey lets chuck a QR code on there for good measure”. But my question is why bother using one unless it actually beneficial for your target audience? QR codes need to be more than uninteresting hyperlinks to a company’s web content.
Just take a look at some of these QR fails:
A bakery attempted to stick a QR code on top of its cupcakes to get customers to use its website; unfortunately it was often eaten or complaints were made for ruining a perfectly good muffin.
Next we have a delightful ad from an American subway station. Beside the fact that QR codes rarely work underground due to the lack of signal coverage, who in their right mind what want to publicly display their need for bed bug removal?
Finally if poor advertising didn’t spook you out, a QR code on a gravestone will. I have no idea what happens when you scan this with your phone, but I seriously hope it is not a live picture of Joan Hansen.
A Creative Future for QR Codes?
I have up until now been terribly one sided, and I should really state that if used creatively and properly, QR codes can be a brilliant and inspiring idea to accompany an advertising campaign. The amazing thing about QR codes is that they link the physical world with online content, which makes them a fun and interactive way of connecting with your target market.
Many businesses still don’t realise the multitude of uses QR codes can provide. Most of the time companies simply use them to provide a link to a mobile website, but they can be used for a wide variety of things, including free downloads, directions, instructions, vouchers, the possibilities are endless! Take a look at these imaginative ideas for some inspiration:
New York City’s Central Park used QR codes to create an interactive tour, including a range of multimedia such as movie footage, maps and books to create an alternative route around the famous park.
A new way to shop – Tesco used QR codes to create a brilliant and creative idea for it South Korean market, allowing busy commuters to do their weekly shopping while waiting for the underground.