The page below comes from the January issue of Spirit Magazine, the in-flight magazine of Southwest Airlines. The article, “The Pleasure Principles,” is about raising happy kids and, as a means for the reader to be able to interact with the article and for Southwest to offer something of additional value to the reader, Spirit Magazine thought to include a Microsoft Tag and post it adjacent to the article (see lower right hand corner).
If you cannot make out the copy next to the Tag it reads “Follow Up. Scan this tag with your smart phone (using a QR code reader) or go to the Web at spiritmag.com/happy for a chance to WIN a copy of Shawn Achor’s The Happiness Advantage or Christine Carter’s Raising Happiness. We’re giving away a few dozen so get scan-happy!” When the Tag is scanned, readers of the article are linked to a mobile website where they can enter an email address and hope to win one of the two books being given away. Sounds simple enough, right?
Did you read the copy closely though? Did you find the error? The company displays a Microsoft Tag and correctly names it in the opening line (tag), but then the reader of the article is instructed to use a QR Code reader to scan the code. What does Spirit Magazine know that the rest of us don’t know? Microsoft Tag is a proprietary 2D barcode platform and, as such, only the Microsoft Tag Reader can detect and scan a Microsoft Tag. All the QR Code readers in the world, as far as I know, won’t be able to detect and/or scan the Tag.
If this mistake was not enough then there are several other tactical aspects of the campaign that, in my opinion, would leave the reader of the article less than enamored with 2D technology. Suffice it to say that these other aspects are related to the placement and location of the Tag and the accessibility, or lack thereof, of the Internet.
Looking beyond these factors, it is commendable that Southwest Airlines wishes to enhance a passenger’s in-flight experience. And the idea to offer free books that tie in to the article’s subject matter makes perfect sense. It’s just a shame that the execution of the campaign was not thoroughly proofed. Simple errors like this will only serve to slow the adoption of 2D technology.
(Thank you Andrew)
2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL