In mid-July, the New York City Department of Sanitation started to display QR codes on the sides of their 2,200 sanitation trucks and, since the story first broke, a number of people have written about it in marketing/technology blogs and on-line magazine articles, as well as on Twitter. While a story like this certainly helps to raise awareness and inform individuals about QR code technology, I still have not seen or read any one’s comments on how poorly the campaign was executed.
When you look at the QR code poster on the side of a sanitation truck, you will see a line of copy which points people to the city’s Green Apple Recycling website. Nothing more, nothing less. There is no explanation of what the code is, and there are no instructions on how to scan the code, let alone how and where to download a reader app.
To know that there is enough space on the poster to include this type of copy, I wonder why the Department’s marketing team or outside agency decided to make the NYC media logo as big as it is and the QR code that much smaller (see lower right-hand corner of poster). Why not do the opposite? If the Department really wanted to attract people’s attention (to the side of a moving object!), why not help them see the code that much easier by printing it larger and or in different colors, which QR codes can handle.
From a strategic perspective, I can understand the Department’s wanting to make use of technology to promote its recycling programs, etc., but I just question whether or not this was the best use and application of 2D barcode technology. Instead of scanning the code and resolving to a video on recycling, why not enable New Yorkers to scan the code and earn a chance to win something. Maybe have a contest to see who has the best recycling story in the city and the winner gets a free weekend at the Waldorf=Astoria Hotel. Crazy, maybe, but I believe a campaign like this offers a greater chance to promote what the Department does and enhance the customer experience, which is really what a 2D barcode campaign is, or should be, all about.