QR Barcodes in Reality

This article is a list of some cool QR barcode examples I’ve noticed implemented in real life, (as opposed to theoretically). I’ve wanted to write this for a bit, but was holding off for what are probably obvious reasons. Recently, Robin Davidson of US Guys posted an article by Mashable entitled “Creative Uses of QR Barcodes” in our LinkedIn group, generating serious buzz. I’m going to hold off reading the article and still put out my list of my favorite barcode uses.

If you need a reader, I use NeoReader for my iPhone. You can create your own code on the site to play with. I just created one for my resume linking to my blog.


1. My Idea (This is my blog ;.)

For our internship last summer my group created a fake agency, which we called “Ctrl+Alt+Think”. We were told to come up with a tchotsky (spelling?), which we’d give out to represent our agency. My idea was to stick a QR barcode on the gift which led to our agency website. Of course we didn’t have a website, so I created a blog with the group members’ pictures and profiles so the client could get to know us before we actually pitched. As things go, the barcodes didn’t work out and we ended up just pasting a web URL for the blog on the tchotskys. I made the blog private after the pitch, but the above is a snapshot after my friend Nihara redesigned it.

2. On a Business Card

This PR agency cleverly put the barcodes are their business cards. I have a stack of business cards a mile high, but this is the only (real) agency I’ve seen use barcodes. The code takes users to a blog post about “Who We Are” on their main website, similar to my group project idea.

Barcodes have become wildly popular in magazines in the last couple months. Why create a “viral video” when you can just stick a barcode on ads you already run? 😉

3. L’Oreal Paris

In December L’Oreal ran this ad without the barcode, and by February they had jumped on the wagon. I liked L’Oreal’s because, if you can read the small print, they give you a number you could text first to receive a free barcode reader. It’s important to remember while most people are getting smartphones, for most Americans its a fairly recent acquisition and they might not have an app for barcodes or even know what they are. L’Oreal makes it very easy to read their code. They also have a nice play on words: “Youth Code” is the product line, and the tagline is “break the code” to younger skin. What I didn’t like though is the barcode takes you to a very boring commercial on their website. Not very fun.

4. Tag Heuer

Tag Heuer was on the magazine-QR trend slightly before the other brands. I worked with the company at a boutique agency, and I really like their marketing outlook. As a luxury brand, their ads feature a preppy-elite, and like to use blonde tennis stars like Anna Kournikova. However, when I worked for them they were targeting Asian-Americans, and you probably heard of their Tiger Woods sponsorship, who is half-Korean. Their forward-thinking look is displayed in their integrated digital marketing campaign.
Rather than just take you to a commercial, the mobile friendly site has a list of their three “collections”, links to Facebook, Twitter and E-commerce businesses that sell their watches, a “retail locater” and a documentary style clip of the girl from the ad, Maria Sharapova. She’s getting into a luxury brand car which was part of a world wide roadtrip to celebrate Tag Heuer’s anniversary. With Tag though, I do question whether the Ford Fiasta style world tour was really appropriate for their target demographics. Ford was targeting young, middle class and slightly alternative lifestyles, while Tag obviously targets a slim elite margin. The ad ran only in high fashion magazines.

5. Express

Yes I did manage to rip this pulling it out of the magazine. The tiny little barcode in this ad was pushed as close to the fold as possible, not convenient. The ad featured a girl on a runway, which Express being a middle-class brand, is part of their marketing strategy to offer edgy fashion cheap, for aspirational fashionistas. The barcode simply says “Watch the Show”, and takes you to an efficient mobile site which loads a behind the scenes movie of their fashion shows in Quicktime. There are three links to Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, where there are more videos. There’s also a download Express’s App, which is very well done. (I’ll include it in an article on Apps some other time.)


6. Party Game

I don’t have a picture for this because it wasn’t something I experienced. An SEO company I’m doing some freelance writing for, ProMedia, used QR codes to enhance their company party. They stuck the codes up around the office, like next to food, in the media room, bathrooms, etc., so as you moved around the party you could take out your phone and play a scavenger style game. I’m not completely sure what the codes linked to, but it apparently was a great party.

7….To Be Continued. I have more to add more to this list, but I have to get some permissions first.

Also a note on magazine barcodes: Yes they will be moot if people are using magazines on iPads, but please remember it’s a lot more affordable for someone to purchase a $4 magazine or $12 subscription than an iPad. Also many people consider them redundant to laptops which have better functionality.


One comment on “QR Barcodes in Reality

  1. As QR barcodes reach the mainstream, individuals, businesses and non-profits are incorporating this new technology into their marketing and advertising campaigns. I work at a medium sized PR firm, and with a program available at http://www.barcodeconnections.com, we have been able to track our clients QR codes, and thus measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, More specifically, you can track:

    1. How many people scan your QR code. (Total number and unique scans)
    2. Where people scan your barcode. (The geographic location)
    3. When people scan your barcode. (Hour by hour, in realtime)
    4. How long individuals spend on your website after scanning your QR code.
    5. Total number of website pages individuals view after scanning your QR code.
    6. The bounce rate of people who visit your website after scanning your QR code.

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