Missed 2D Barcode Opportunity

Yesterday, I noticed a telephone booth billboard for the Food Emporium, a local New York City supermarket chain, and the product being promoted was the supermarket’s private label balsamic vinegar, which is made in Modena, Italy. After reading the billboard, I thought what a missed marketing and sales opportunity, and here’s why.

Food Emporium No 2D Barcode

From a purely aesthetic perspective, the billboard was very well done and certainly got me to take notice. From a call to action perspective, however, there was absolutely nothing on the billboard (image or copy) that pushed or pulled me any further along the purchase decision process. In my mind, this would have been a great opportunity for Food Emporium to use 2D technology. For instance, if a 2D code was displayed on the billboard, perhaps the scan resolve could link to a contest to win a trip to Modena, or a video interview with a top chef who endorses the product, or a set of recipes using the product, or a mCoupon for the product, or a location map to help a consumer find the nearest store, etc.

While I know not all consumers have a smartphone to scan a 2D code, a URL could have also been provided to allow non-smartphone consumers the ability to take advantage of the enhanced experience/service that was being offered.

It is not my intention to pick on Food Emporium and call them out as an example, but how many brand and or product image ads does one see from day to day where there is no real call to action, no source of engagement, no next step provided, no offer made, no real substance, etc., and they just serve as an interruption? In my opinion, too many.

While I may be naive when it comes to certain points of advertising and brand management, I seriously don’t understand the usefulness of brand and product image ads if, at a minimum, their effectiveness cannot even be tracked and measured. I suppose Food Emporium can compare vinegar sales before, during and after the billboard runs and see how sales are effected, but that leaves room for a certain amount of guess work and assumption. With 2D in place, it provides Food Emporium with a real tool to measure a certain amount/level of results. Additionally, it provides a way for consumers to interact with the brand personally, as well as socially should they wish to forward a code, a contest offer, a mCoupon, etc. to a friend. 

Also, from an integrated marketing perspective, why is there no tie-in between the billboard and the company’s website? If you visit the website there is absolutely no mention or reference to the private label balsamic vinegar being advertised. But I digress.
To know the expense of advertising, especially in a city like New York, I would be hard pressed to think that any advertiser (i.e., a CMO) would produce a campaign, any campaign, that could not be tracked and measured to some degree. And, to know the power of all things social, campaigns need to include some sort of mechanism which allows prospects or customers to be just that, as it relates to the product or offer being promoted.


6 thoughts on “Missed 2D Barcode Opportunity

  1. I must be getting old.

    I see a certain beauty in the simplicity of the ad. It's pure “brand awareness” and nothing more. It's not asking anyone to CLICK anything. It passes by in our peripheral vision without demanding focused attention. Somewhere, it generates a deep-memory connection that says “if I need quality food ingredients, here's where I can shop.” That's it. No ROI. No deep analytics to pour over. It's beautiful.

    It's advertising that works on instinct and emotion, the way it used to be.

    It's also realistic to the time and location of the ad unit. People simply won't stop and engage with an ad while walking down the streets of New York (the vast majority). Who has two minutes to spare in that environment?

    To your earlier post about QR Blindness, isn't it better not to have stuck another QR code on this ad if it's not really part of a blended, integrated print/mobile campaign?

    Better to aim for one exceptional and successful QR campaign than to see a hundred smaller attempts fail and turn away consumers, as well as cause QR blindness.

  2. Yes there is a beauty and simplicity to the ad and that is probably what caused me to stop and take notice. But I can tell you I will most likely not remember this ad when it comes time to do the next weekly food shop.

    To your point about QR Blindness, if a code was displayed on the ad I do not believe it would contribute to QR Blindness if it was executed, integrated and designed correctly (strategically and tactically) from start to finish…anything less than that is what causes QR Blindness.

    As I said, I know there is some purpose for pure brand and product image ads, I get it, but in an age when most every marketing dollar needs to be accounted for and or explained, how can a company not track?

    As always, thank you for the support and comment.

  3. Roger, Like you I am a 2D code enthusiast. I have sold printing for my whole career, and when I first discovered these codes, they really captured my imagination. Here is a way to connect print to the digital world. I have become an evangelist for these codes to my clients. Everyone I present to is amazed by the technology, but sadly, people are reluctant to integrate it into their marketing plans. They want case studies. Who have you done this for? is the question I am most asked. I do think that there will be a tipping point, when this technology comes of age here in North America, but time will tell. The real challenge is to properly integrate codes into marketing plans. Maybe not every ad needs a code, but most would greatly benefit if codes were properly deployed. I think as the idea of codes becomes more mainstream, their appeal, especially the ability to measure, will become irresistible to marketers.In the meantime, it is fun to see this new technology bloom.

  4. Tom: Thank you for the comment. I agree, not all advertisements, billboards, etc. need to have a 2D code attached, but think back several years ago when the Internet was coming into its own and whether or not companies chose to put a URL address in the ad. Some did, some did not (heck, some still do not). And now think about how companies make mention of Facebook or Twitter in their ads today. For those that include these items in their ads all they are doing is providing prospects and customers with yet another option to reach out and interact with the company, brand, product and like minded fans. Nothing more, nothing less. This is the way I believe 2D should be viewed…it merely serves as a gateway to help consumers connect and, if done correctly, it helps to enhance the overall experience.

    In response to your comment regarding case studies, good luck there, as no one seems to want to come forward and discuss numbers, successes or failures. Perhaps you can take articles from this blog and present them as things to do and not to do, and maybe that leads to having a more serious dialogue with a prospect.

  5. Roger, great insight and thoughts regarding the missed opportunity. Although the ad agency is probably more to blame, I don't foresee to many more missed opps in the near future. Our research here at Scanlutions shows time and time again that the value prop is much too high as compared to the minimal cost of utilizing the codes. Throw a mobile coupon offer on there and I bet people will stop to smell the rose…or scan the code 🙂

  6. Tracy: Thank you for your comment. Yes, for the relative cost of incorporating 2D the pay off should be that much greater. Then again, the payoff will only be as good as the campaign itself and how well executed it is.

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