American Idol uses QR Code

To promote the kick-off of the new season of “American Idol,” FOX Broadcasting launched a new print campaign last week which featured a FOX Code (lower left hand corner). A FOX Code is essentially a standard QR Code, nothing more, nothing less but, for some reason, the company decided to brand it.

When the code is scanned, the reader of the advertisement is brought to a mobile website that is very clean and easy to navigate. Once on the mobile site, the reader can view featured content, videos, photos, news and interact on the forums. Additionally, the reader can share content found on the mobile site via Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

American Idol QR Code

It’s worth mentioning that the videos on the site, some of which run as long as four or five minutes, are not links to You Tube videos, but are embedded in the site itself. As a result, the videos upload faster and play through more consistently. A few times, there were hangups due to buffering, but for the most part the experience went well.

American Idol QR Code

While there are no giveaways or offers being made via the 2D barcode and its resolve, fans of the show certainly get a lot of background information about the previous and future episodes and, if the reader of the advertisement was new to the show, they too can benefit from all of the information that is being provided on the mobile site.

There are two comments that I have about the campaign:

  1. FOX should provide some basic code scan information in the advertisement, so that more than just early adopters and those in the know can experience the campaign via 2D. I have a feeling  the creative team wanted to keep the advertisement very clean is its appearance and they believe it’s cool or hip (like the show) to communicate without any further explanation than “For Smartphones.”
  2. If AT&T is a key sponsor of the show, why doesn’t FOX make use of AT&T’s mobile barcode platform and offering? Is there something happening here that’s not being said?

2D Barcode Litmus Test: PASS


9 thoughts on “American Idol uses QR Code

  1. Roger,

    Yes! A revenue generating (missed) opportunity for FOX to offer an integrated marketing opportunity to AT&T built/branded around the AT&T mobile barcode platform. Same opportunity exists for all network/cable TV channels. Looks like at least two FOX groups and AT&T need to work together so that 1 + 1 + 1 = 111.

    Dan Smigrod

  2. Dan: Thank you for the comment. Not sure if it was a missed revenue generating opportunity for FOX in that AT&T is only working with charter clients now, so I have been told, but I wonder if the two companies ever discussed the use of AT&T's codes in some shape or form during the sponsorship negotiations.

  3. Hey Guys, just speculating here but I think Fox is trying to brand their own code, the FoxCode. I recall many months ago they made some noise in the press regarding their Fox Audience Network rolling these out.

  4. Dave: Thank you for the comment. Yes, several months ago, FOX rolled out a number of FOX codes in their print ads, but I don't know why they feel the need to brand the code and not refer to it/them as QR Codes. Other than this American Idol campaign I have not been overly impressed with the way they have used their codes. Also, judging by the way they provide instructions on how to use the code it seems as though they are only targeting early adopters and could care less about others. This too has me wondering. Perhaps it's time to try and contact a FOX marketing executive.

  5. Perhaps they are aware of their target market needs and wants and there is a well developed under current of 2D savvy youth that need no explanation of this kind of technology. We only see things from our own perspectives and experiences and business circles.

  6. Anonymous: Point well taken. I am certain the network knows exactly who they are targeting through their ads and website, but if you look at other FOX Code based ads and the programs they are associated with, you can't tell me that for each and every show the company is only interested in communicating with a sliver of the population (i.e., of all smartphone users, only those that know and understand 2D). Seems to me a network would want as many viewers as possible, whether they have a smartphone or not, whether they understand 2D or not. If I am wrong on this I would welcome the counter point and discussion. As always, thank you for the comment.

  7. Hi Roger,

    Since we now live in a “Google Obsessed World”, branding the QR Code as Fox Code is a great marketing idea. Instead of attempting to educate people with tiny text about a multimedia app through an attention grabbing ad print, the “less-is-more” concept delivers the goods to the target audience. I would expect that a large percentage of the AI audience are not readers….they are Google surfers.

    It is odd the Fox marketing hair-cuts used “qrcodes” and not “foxcodes” in their URL address.

  8. Anonymous: I agree re: the satisfying the needs of the AI target market, but there should be consistency. How silly if the hair-cuts, as you put it, have to “define” a FOX Code as a QR Code, which it is. It makes no sense. Call a spade a spade. From a branding perspective, I don't see how this gets FOX any further along. If, if, the company did develop a true proprietary code then sure it would make sense to refer to it and brand it as a FOX Code, but they haven't so they shouldn't. As it is, Google 'fox code' and the corporate site does not even rank in the top three results.

  9. I believe the insights are acurate and AT&T and Idol actually ran a $10M scan to win contest near the end of the season last year…

    i would enjoy speaking with you at some point


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