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QR codes, though a potentially useful device in the marketer's armoury, have been undermined by overuse and downright bad execution.
While they can be used effectively, it's generally easier to find bad and terrible examples of QR code marketing, normally the result of poor placement, or landing pages that just don't work on mobile.
So, it's a mixed bag, as the examples below demonstrate...
This example, from Express, is a good example for two reasons. Firstly, showing QR codes in the shop window allows customers to access the range and see details, prices etc even when the store is closed.
Image credit: Dave Bovenschulte
Secondly, the QR code leads users to a mobile optimised site, with a promo code prominently displayed.
I like the idea of using QR in museums and art galleries to provide extra information on the exhibits, or complementary audio or video.
However, for those mobile users without a QR reader, or who don't have the patience to find and download one, why not give them a URL?
Restaurant menus can also be a good place to use QR. After all, people are seated, and with some time to spare.
Here, Casey's uses QR codes to provide information on nutrition, and for people with allergies:
Unless you expect people to painstakingly unravel the straw wrapper and straighten it to scan the code, this is totally useless:
Image credit: Jody Raines
Landing page fail
QR codes are designed to be scanned with smartphones, yet so many marketers forget that the landing page needs to work on mobile.
Here's an example from a Green Festival ad:
All very well so far, but this is the page it takes you to:
QR codes on food packaging isn't in itself a bad idea, but it often executed badly.
Here's an example from Cello cheese, which promises to take the user to its recipe ideas.
Problem is, it takes you to the landing page shown below. No recipes, and not a mobile optimised page.
Image credit: georillas
And the ugly...
Across tube train tracks
This one is unscannable. Even if you are at a tube station with wi-fi, then only the foolhardy would attempt to scan it:
Placement is vital with QR, and this totally fails. To be fair, the posters were probably part if a general campaign, and perhaps the rest were shown where it was possible to scan them without getting yourself killed.
This next one fails on many levels. Even if you set aside the sheer sexism, you're going to look like a pervert bending down to scan these codes:
Image credit: Ryan Ostertag
This one, on the bonnet of a plumber's van in Brighton, isn't the best placement. OK, people 'might' attempt to scan it when the van is stationary, but it's quite big, and gives no reason for people to scan it.
This plumber would have been better advised to put his phone number and /or URL on the bonnet instead.