New Balance uses In-Store Mobile Barcode

This mobile barcode campaign is a mess, so I will try my best to keep my analysis as succinct as possible. 
Recently, New Balance, the sneaker company, opened a new flagship store on Fifth Avenue in New York City. As you enter the store, you can’t help but notice the large gold and black QR Code, which is displayed on a column facing the front door, and the headline which reads, “Go For Gold” (see below). As prominent as the code display may be to people walking in the front door, or even looking into the store from the front windows, the code and its headline, I believe, means very little to the average consumer and has probably netted very few responses (i.e., scans). Why? Let’s take a closer look.

First, the average consumer will look at the code and the headline and walk right by it. Why? Because there is no descriptive, instructional and/or call-to-action copy next to or near the code for a consumer to read. What? There is descriptive and instructional copy next to the code. Where? Where? Oh, there it is, it’s hiding behind the point-of-sale kiosk, which is located underneath the code and in front of the column (see below). Well if that’s not the perfect place to put copy that important, then I just don’t know where else is. 

Who came up with the bright idea of placing copy in this location? If I was not as in tune with 2D campaigns as I am, I would have had no reason to hunt down and locate the instructional and descriptive copy hiding behind the kiosk. For that reason alone, I do not believe many will scan the code, but let’s keep going.  

Second, let’s pretend I am a savvy consumer and know all about mobile barcodes. I enter the store, notice the QR Code and scan it. I am then brought to a page that has the following message displayed, “iPhone users, think you can outrun NYC? Then watch the video below to find out how you can get a shot at free exclusive New Balance shoes and a 14K gold baton valued at $20,000.” Beneath the play button for the video there is another message, which reads, “Don’t have an iPhone? Get $20 of EXCELLENT free from New Balance by clicking the link below.” Plenty to discuss here…

It seems as though New Balance wants to think of consumers as haves and have-nots. Consumers either have an iPhone or they don’t and we, as a company, are really only interested in the ones that have. The game the company created, as described in the 1:14 minute video, was only intended for iPhone users, all others are out of luck and can settle for a $20 gift card, no contest for you (said like the Soup Nazi on Seinfeld). What kind of corporate message does that send or image does that project? Is the company not smart enough to develop a contest to be all inclusive, where mobile phone type does not matter? I guess not but then, why was I able to view the video on my Android phone? Does New Balance really have a handle on this thing called mobile?

With respect to the second message that appears on the scan resolve web page, what’s “EXCELLENT” supposed to mean or refer to? If I am a fan of New Balance I would know the company is referring to a new line of sneakers, but what if I’m not? Also, is correct grammar being used in the sentence? I don’t believe so, but that’s for another discussion altogether.

What I also don’t understand about the whole promotion is, when does the contest end? No date is given in the video or anywhere next to the code on the column. So, do I really want to spend the time and do what the video tells me I have to do in order to play the game and possibly win, only to find out that the contest is already over?

Sorry, I have to stop here. My mind is numb after trying to make sense of this campaign. Okay, one last thought/comment/question…What’s in it for New Balance? The company runs a contest, it offers gift cards, gold batons, free sneakers, etc. but, where and how are they collecting consumer data and information for future campaigns and promotions? Am I missing something? Yes, they will (might) have some scan data, but then what?

Lastly, it’s worth noting that this QR Code (which is a JAGTAG QR Code) was the same code used in print ads that the company ran when the store first opened a couple of months ago. Why is the print ad code being used in-store? Yes, they both want to promote the company’s new line of sneakers, but the consumer is already in the store shopping, not reading about the sneakers in the local newspaper. Shouldn’t the scan resolve be something all together different if the audience itself is different (i.e., print ad reader vs. in-store shopper)?

Enough.  Hope you learned something.

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL


2 thoughts on “New Balance uses In-Store Mobile Barcode

  1. You would think that the agency behind this campaign would have done a little more homework! Sounds less like they only want iphone carrying customers than they didn't bother to test other phones prior to developing their final campaign. Had they done that, they wouldn't have had such a clunky alternative, nor would they have alienated potential customers. On the other hand, as an iphone user, I would prefer the $20 coupon to the pie-in-the-sky offer of “a shot at free exclusive New Balance shoes and a 14K gold baton valued at $20,000.” Back to the First and Last rule of QR Codes: Test, Test and re-Test!

  2. Stephanie: Thank you for the comment. I don't know if this was a testing issue or a strategic marketing blunder, plain and simple. When does the contest end? When and where will the winner be announced? What is a person to do with a gold baton? Who made the baton, is there a story there? Too many unknowns, not enough value, not the right targeting, not the best use of a 2D code, etc., etc. Regardless, I am most certain JAGAG/Augme will hang their hats on the client's name and make use of the campaign for their own promotional purposes.

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