Pilot uses Mobile Barcode to Promote New Pen

Recently, Pilot Pen launched a print advertisement in Real Simple magazine to promote a new pen with erasable ink, and featured in the ad is a QR Code.

The most notable aspect of this advertisement, I believe, is the call-to-action. Typically, 2D-based advertisements lack a strong/urgent call-to-action, which is directly tied to the code, but, with this advertisement, just the opposite is true. This ad’s call-to-action, which reads, “Be one of the first 100 to scan this code with your smartphone and get a FREE FriXion!” not only prompts a consumer to respond quickly, but also instructs the consumer as to what to do with the code itself (i.e., scan it).

When the code is scanned, consumers are linked to a web page that informs them as to whether or not they are one of the first 100 people to scan and respond. In my case, I was not one of the first 100, so the web page I was linked to provided me with an email contact form, which could be filled out in exchange for discount coupons to be sent via email. If I was one of the first 100 people to respond, I suppose a contact form would have been on the page, as well, asking for information as to where they could send me my free pen.

As much as I like the advertisement’s call-to-action, there are a few things that could have been implemented to make the campaign a bit stronger. First, the density of the QR Code could have been lessened (i.e., simplified), so as to ensure the scanability of the code. Second, the scan resolve experience could have been richer in that the landing page could have offered more than just a contact form. Why not create a more detailed mobile page and offer some of the product/company information found on the desktop version? Third, why not encourage word of mouth and offer social sharing links on the scan resolve landing page? Fourth, why link the scan resolve landing page to the desktop version of the company’s website? Again, why not make a feature/capability rich mobile website? And, fifth, to increase the visibility of the QR Code the code should have been positioned in the lower right-hand corner of the ad, since it was a right-hand facing page. Placing the code near the gutter makes it more difficult for consumers to find and scan the code.

All told, I like the campaign, because it is straight to the point and effective…could it have gone further (i.e., richer 2D/mobile experience), yes, but it certainly accomplishes what it sets out to do.

2D Barcode Litmus Test: PASS


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