Does She or Doesn’t She?

Outdoor retailer, REI, not only uses QR codes on their direct mail catalogs, but also in their magazine advertisements. This ad was spotted in a popular snow boarding magazine, and what caught my attention more than anything else was the QR code’s call to action, which asks the question, “Did she land it?”


Phrasing the call to action in this manner simply begs for interaction and engagement with the reader, and goes beyond a simple product focused call to action, such as the offering of a coupon, etc.  But the question I have for REI, and others is, why not write the headline as a call to action that ties directly with the barcode? In this instance, why not have the main headline read, “Does she land it?” and then point the reader to the code to find out. It seems as though advertisers who use 2D always want to keep these two elements mutually exclusive of one another.

As an aside, it would be interesting to know if any 2D advertisers have done A/B split tests, similar to non-2D advertisement research studies, to determine if one headline and or call to action pulled a greater response than another.

With respect to the code itself, it was displayed on the inside edge of the page, which means that it was up against the spine of the magazine…not the best place for the code to be noticed and or scanned. If the creative and media buying teams worked closely together then everyone should have been on board with what side of the publication (left or right) was purchased. Thus the code could have been positioned in a more optimum location in the ad. Regardless, REI, does a good job explaining the code and instructing readers on how to scan it. Also, this is one of the few times that I have seen multi channel/medium use of 2D by any one company. Does anyone know if they use 2D in store?

So, in the end, the question is asked, does she or doesn’t she, land it that is? Well, I tried several times to scan the code and view the video that it resolves to but, for whatever reason, the video would not play on my mobile phone. I used three different reader apps, all to no avail. Not sure if others experienced the same result or if REI knows there may be a problem with the link.

When using 2D, companies must ensure that the code works and they can do this by testing with a variety of reader apps and mobile devices before launching the advertisement or promotion, etc. Also, as a fail safe, companies should include somewhere in the advertisement copy that informs readers where to go if the code does not scan properly. Yes, this type of copy may take up valuable advertising real estate, but at least it enables the reader (smartphone and or non-smartphone owner) to still experience what is being promoted and or offered.


6 thoughts on “Does She or Doesn’t She?

  1. It's a case of the “almost but not quites.”

    The “does she land it?” is a perfect example of how to extend story from print to mobile. But, yes, as you point out, it should have been a sub-head or given more prominence within the visual to make it integral to the ad (creating more of a sense that the ad is “part 1 of 2”), instead, it's the proverbial “after thought” positioning.

    Of course, none of this matters if the code doesn't resolve or the mobile content isn't delivered to the user.

  2. Would be helpful if you could add a second image of just the barcode in your stories. In this case, I would be interested to test the code.

  3. There's nothing more frustrating than going all the way and actually scanning a QR placed in an ad just to see that it's useless. In addition to making the entire campaign useless this also keeps potential users from actually trying to scan other codes later on.

    i-nigma mentions some of the potential pitfalls and solutions in their Facebook page. That's important for promoters as well as users. Definitely worth reading.

  4. I haven't seen my catalog yet…I can't believe they failed at yet another execution. I agree with the comment about posting the QR code so we can all review the experience…good advice that I will take note of for my own blog.

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