Discovery Channel uses QR Code

Discovery Channel has launched a campaign to promote the next season of “Deadliest Catch” and featured in the campaign is a QR Code. The billboard below was spotted on the side of a New York City bus stop shelter.

The QR Code is prominently displayed on the billboard and above the code the copy reads, “Scan this code for exclusive Catch videos and more.” Below the code, the copy reads, “MORECATCH.COM” which is the program’s own website. Great that a call to action, instructions and a URL are provided, but given the amount of space that the billboard offers, one more line could have been written to help readers of the billboard find a QR Code reader app. Why leave it to chance that the reader will know where to find an app if they don’t already have one? Also, why leave it to chance to simply say “this code,” as opposed to “this QR Code?” Maybe advertisers don’t feel the need to spell out just what type of code is being used and/or referred to in an ad, but knowing that there is more than one 2D barcode on the market today I believe it helps to be specific.

When the code is scanned, the reader is brought to a well-designed mobile website, which offers a lot of program information, a sweepstakes entry, content sharing via social networks and program merchandise for purchase. Additionally, there are a number of videos that appear on the site and most of the ones that I selected played just fine. For what it’s worth, the content definitely offers value to those who are fans of the program, as well as to those who choose to scan the code.

Overall, a very sound campaign and use of 2D. I am curious to know if Discovery Channel did all of this work in-house or if they hired an outside vendor to work with. Also, is the channel making use of codes for other programs as well. 

2D Barcode Litmus Test: PASS

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6 thoughts on “Discovery Channel uses QR Code

  1. It's worth noting that during the airing (oh, that's an old fashioned phrase) of the show, they are running overlays of QR codes, holding them onscreen for about :30 seconds, once or twice per hour (lower left hand corner of the screen).

    So, this is a more concerted effort to add value to their viewers and connect with them on mobile as well as their primary screen, television.

    I found the overlay during the show to be annoying. The show's pace and style doesn't suit a “look elsewhere” or “multitask now” ethos. Like a good film, it's not what's being said that's as important as the reaction shots of the cast/characters. If you look away (scanning your code and moving your eyeballs to a different screen) you will miss the raison d'etre of the show.

    Did I scan the onscreen QR code?

    No.

    I was watching the show.

    But, I guess that's a whole other can 'o worms…

  2. Roger, I think your dismissal of television use of 2D is a bit rash. I would suggest that television could make good use of 2D when applied in a way that extends the experience of the content. As a dedicated DVR viewer I could see this as one more point of control. Want to see out-takes from “The Office”? Want to see the whole audition on American Idle? There may be some heuristic elements to discovering the right time and place for 2D but perhaps this is the next natural connection and perhaps the iPad-2D-television connection.

  3. hi roger,

    i understand from your past litmus tests that driving to the mobile website did not receive a thumbs up, but how did discovery receive one? was it because it was a “well designed” one? (as you've mentioned) rather there were options for the advertiser to instantly play a bit of the Catch videos and ask user to watch the TV show for a complete clip? helping them build the buzz for their TV episodes.. or was driving users to their WAP site the objective of this campaign??

  4. Dharithri: Thank you for writing. A company can produce a mobile website that is linked to the code, but if the mobile website does very little to provide value, offer relevance and deliver a remarkable mobile/brand experience, what's the point? In situations like this, I will most likely FAIL on the litmus test. With this example from Discovery Channel, the company produced a well designed mobile website that offered a great deal of information which serves existing fans of the program, as well as those who may be new to the program and wish to learn that much more. The company also adds value by offering a contest to enter, as well as providing the ability to purchase program merchandise. All of this, and a few other factors, when combined speaks to a great experience. Anything less than that will most likely FAIL. I hope that answers your question.

  5. I believe that all depends in which market segment are we targetting the initiative..
    In my campaigns in my market, people scan the code in the Cinema, and in the TV, not much but a few did it. I recommend the client to place in the TV Ad as they do the Facebook and Twitter icon, just to let know the consumer that they can look for the mobile experience in their print ads. Sears did in their Christmas TV Shopper Campaign in the US and Puerto Rico.

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