Several weeks ago, FOX Broadcasting Company launched a new campaign called FOX Codes and, since then, I have seen several billboards, print advertisements and web pages with the codes, which are essentially QR codes.
This new print advertisement promotes the FOX program “Fringe” and is one of the few co-branded 2D barcode advertisements that I have seen. For FOX to co-brand with Sprint makes sense, because I believe Sprint smartphones are the only ones on the market that come pre-loaded with a 2D barcode reader app. If that is the case then I can understand why the descriptive text next to the code includes the phrase “the reader app on your Sprint smartphone.”
When the code is scanned, the reader of the ad will be shown a “secret” message that pertains to the show. As a fan of the show myself, I can only imagine that this message means something to someone like me, but very little to a non-viewer? So how does this ad work to attract new viewers? Beyond that, I question the co-branding aspect of the advertisement and how it is focused towards Sprint customers (i.e., the descriptive text). What about non-Sprint customers? Could they not be viewers too? (Please don’t misinterpret what I stated above, I am all for co-branding where and when it makes sense and is mutually beneficial to the companies participating. It is the execution I question in this ad.)
As I review 2D barcode advertisements, I have come to notice a “take no prisoners” attitude on the part of the advertiser and I wonder about this. For example, advertisers either take the time and effort to explain what a 2D barcode is or they don’t, they either focus on smartphone users or no one else (i.e., non-smartphone users), or they either offer a real and valuable call to action or they don’t. While I understand the tactic and necessity of targeting and audience segmentation, it does not seem as though this type of “attitude” is present in other forms of advertising and promotion. What makes 2D campaigns so different and why? At a time when there is a real need to be all inclusive so as to help build popularity and acceptance of 2D technology, one could view an attitude such as this as being counter productive.