FOX’s Fringe uses QR Code

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.”

FOX Codes QR codes

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.


2 thoughts on “FOX’s Fringe uses QR Code

  1. To clarify, most Android phones come with an embedded QR Reader; as well as Nokia phones. I believe both Verizon and T-Mobile are also embedding Readers on certain models. So, SPRINT is far from alone; you can also count Blackberry in the mix, with their buried Reader.

    Co-branding is often ideal, provided the weight and information is correct and not restrictive. In this instance, it does appear as though it's EXCLUSIVE to SPRINT customers (unless you read the fine print). That works against FOX, but, it's about who paid for the ad and media buy? If SPRINT coined-in heavily, well, they get to skew the perception as they did.

    I'd say the campaign itself is the beginning of some creative, cross platform storytelling, rather than recycling video or content you can acquire anywhere else (and, may be better consumed elsewhere).

    The “intrigue” factor and mystery of a “secret message” is valuable to both fans of the show and non-fans…creating “mystery” and offering secrets may attract new viewers. I believe that QR Codes should be perceived as gateways to open up locked doors and uncover mysteries. If they are gateways to Data, just print the data in place of the code.

    I haven't reviewed the actual content, but am guessing it's a one size fits all message or rotating message? The questions are: Is it engaging and does it pay-off the effort someone takes to reach it? Does it truly add story-value and make create a more loyal fan?

    This effort seems headed in the right direction. But, it's likely they lost a number of prospective scans by weighting the SPRINT presence and copy as heavily as they did.

  2. Anonymous: I agree, a co-branded campaign may be skewed more towards the company that ponies up more funding and resources, etc., but this should not interfere with the overall message, offer and or objective of the campaign. With respect to the scan resolve…again, as a fan of the show it was of some value, but not much. For non-fans, I see this secret message doing very little.

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