Second HBO QR Code Spotted

HBO is on a tear using branded QR codes, as I just spotted another one. This one is for the series Eastbound and Down.

As seen in the images below, a branded QR code is displayed in the lower right hand corner of the billboard and, when scanned, the reader can view a trailer of the series. My comments on this campaign are similar to those for HBO’s Boardwalk Empire 2D campaign, so I’ll be brief. With no instructions on how to scan the code, it seems like HBO is comfortable letting people figure it out on their own. This does not seem like a pro-active way to engage with an audience, let alone to introduce a new technology, but who am I to say. To offer a trailer of the series does not seem very original, nor does it work to enhance the consumer/viewer experience, mobile or otherwise. In addition, why the branded code? Out of context, who would know the main character’s profile, which is not very discernible to begin with, and how it relates to the series. In context, it is simply not necessary, so why the added expense.

HBO Eastbound QR Code

I have an email into HBO to try and speak with someone about the strategy and thought process behind these recent campaigns. If I am able to share any insight I will.

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4 thoughts on “Second HBO QR Code Spotted

  1. Hi Mr. Marquis
    My continued thanks for your efforts. I agree that these 2D code campaigns are really suffering for the assumption that all consumers have a reader firmly entrenched in their being. They don't, as I know you'll agree. I'm reasonably aware of such things and it still took me 3 tries to find a working one. BTW- it seems that a company called Augme is behind the service. Do you know of them? Is this a new proprietary/open source service provider? As a matter of fact, I'm a fan of branded tags because my role as creative director in an off-madison boutique is made substantially easier by their existence. My question is whether you have a problem with them per se…jagtag and MStag by way of comparison…or is it just this new one from Augme that offends?

  2. Brian: Thank you for the comments, but we need not be so formal (i.e., Mr.). I know of Augme and they have been around for a while playing in the 2D space. With respect to branded codes, it is not the provider (i.e., ScanLife, MS Tag, JAGTAG, etc.) that I have a problem with, but the execution. In this example and the other HBO example earlier in the week, there is just no need for them in these applications. Also, to put the main character's profile on the code means nothing. If HBO wanted a branded code, here's a thought, put the HBO logo in the code. Plain and simple.

  3. I happen to like the branded codes. It certainly doesn't detract from the code and makes it look more custom. I guess that the decision to use the branded code came from some folks at HBO that certainly understand the value of branding. I agree that most people don't yet know what to do when they see a code and should be helped along the way with some instruction. I present these codes all of the time to existing and potential clients and I am amazed that most marketers don't yet know about them. What makes them think the average joe knows what to do?

  4. Tom: Thank you for the comment. Please don't get me wrong, I like branded codes too and realize they can become an extension of a brand's image. I just question the branding elements used by HBO, because when taken out of context the word “Empire” and the profile of a man means very little. Like a brand icon, the branded code should be able to stand on its own.

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