QR Codes and Brand Value

The other day, I had a conversation with someone about QR Codes and brand value, and it went something like this:

Question: Does a QR Code in a print advertisement add value to a company’s brand?
2DBS Answer: No. 
Question: Why not?
2DBS Answer: Because QR Codes are merely a technology, a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. 
Question: Then, what does add value to the brand when a QR Code is placed in a print advertisement, or on a billboard, or on a package, etc.?
2DBS Answer: When a QR Code is placed in an advertisement, the value to the brand comes as a direct result of the engagement or interaction a consumer experiences once the QR Code is scanned. If the engagement/interaction provides value, meaning, relevance, benefit and usefulness to the consumer then brand value will rise. If the engagement/interaction is anything less than that then brand value will suffer. In addition, when the engagement/interaction happens flawlessly and seamlessly, meaning all content to be viewed and experienced is mobile optimized and there are no interruptions or glitches from start to finish, brand value will rise. Just the opposite and brand value will fall. It’s all a matter of managing expectations…pretty simple. 

To see the above in action, look at the double-page spread found in Cigar Aficionado from cigar company Room101Brand.

When the QR Code is scanned, the reader of the ad is brought to the page shown below, which displays a symbol/logo of some sort, and small icons for Facebook and Twitter. Yup, that’s it. So, based on the above conversation, do you believe this QR Code-based campaign adds value to the brand or not? I’m pretty sure you know my thoughts.

When I touch on the Facebook icon, I’m brought to a Facebook log-on screen, but what happens if I don’t have a Facebook account? Game over. You lost me Room101Brand. When I touch on the Twitter icon, I’m brought to the company’s Twitter page. As I start to read the page, I ask myself, why am I reading this? From what I can tell, there’s virtually nothing that I see that would lead a consumer to want to actually purchase the company’s cigars, or move in that direction. Yes, I know there are restrictions to cigar advertising and promotion, but I’d like to believe the marketing and creative team can do better than this. I say that, but then these are the same people that developed this very ad. It’s a vicious cycle, isn’t it?

While I don’t know the true objective of this ad (there is an objective, isn’t there?), I’d assume it’s to sell more cigars. If that’s the case then how will this ad, and the QR Code, work to achieve this? And, to the point of adding value to the brand, how does the company see this happening when the scan experience is lackluster (i.e., no value, benefit, relevance, meaning, usefulness, etc.).

Lastly, if the marketing and creative team knew anything about QR Codes, they would use a URL shortener to generate the code, so the code is less pixelated and easier to scan.

2D Bar Code Litmus Test: FAIL


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