Martin Lindstrom uses QR Code to Promote New Book

Martin Lindstrom, a 2009 recipient of TIME Magazine’s “World’s 100 Most Influential People” and author of the best-seller Buyology—Truth and Lies About Why We Buy, may know a great deal about all things marketing and branding but, when it comes to the use of 2D technology and mobile he (and/or his publisher and/or his agency) needs to brush up on a thing or two.

In the current issue of Fast Company, Lindstrom placed an advertisement to promote his latest book called Brandwashed. While the premise of the book is very interesting and will most likely draw a lot of attention within marketing and business circles, much less can be said for the scan resolve content/mobile experience that is offered via the QR Code, which is featured in the ad.

When the code is scanned, the reader of the advertisement is brought to a six second You Tube video (yes, six seconds) of an infant saying something. Because part of the book discusses the age at which people become susceptible to corporate branding messages (i.e., infants and younger), I can understand why an infant muttering a word close to McDonalds is shown in the video but, is this really going to get people to take a closer look and purchase the book? I had to watch the video several times to understand what the baby was saying and what the connection is with the book. Also, I don’t understand the code scan instructions, which read, “Scan, then place smart phone over the baby’s mouth to hear the first word recognized by most kids worldwide.” Placing the phone over the picture of the baby’s mouth has nothing to do with scanning the code or being able to hear the video so, why make the reader of the ad, who might not know any better in regard to how QR Codes work, jump through an unnecessary hoop.

For someone such as Mr. Lindstrom, who seems to know his stuff when it comes to marketing and advertising, I don’t believe the 2D barcode interaction and mobile experience that is delivered through this advertisement is on par with his other work. Look at the website, which was created to launch and promote Brandwashed, and there is any number of other items Mr. Lindstrom could have linked the code to. For example, an excerpt of the new book, a summary of his background, the Brandwashed Intelligence Test or the ability to pre-order the book. Any and all of this would be of value and meaning to a consumer and help move the consumer further down the purchase decision path. A six second video such as the one used, at least to me, doesn’t really register.      

Mr. Lindstrom probably knows a lot more about marketing practice and theory than I do, and maybe there is a real good reason for the use of a six second video of a baby muttering, but I just can’t figure it out.  Mr. Lindstrom, can you please share your rationale? Maybe this is all part of what you try to get across in your book, perhaps there is something subliminal going on here?

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL


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