QR codes are now a common feature in marketing campaigns, though many people are often sceptical about their value. 

This scepticism is often justified as, though we have seen some creative examples, QR codes are often used very badly

Also, while it is easy to find creative examples, brands and marketers aren't always forthcoming about revealing the stats around campaigns. 

So here are six examples where we have some stats, and where QR codes have been used effectively... 


German retailer MyToy.de built QR codes using Lego bricks to drive customers to their online store.

Users were then able to buy the bricks used to make the QR code.

While it is a very creative use of QR codes, the execution wasn’t perfect as it linked to a desktop site.

But it was still a huge success, as 49% of visitors to MyToy.de came via the QR codes while the campaign was live, and twice as many brick boxes were sold for the Lego models included in the QR adverts.


Last year Heinz put QR codes on ketchup bottles in US restaurants to promote its new environmentally friendly packaging.

It linked to a mobile site where users could win prizes by answering a green knowledge trivia question.


Heinz reported that more than 1m consumers scanned the codes.


This is another example of a retailer being creative with QR codes but also achieving excellent engagement.

Emart, South Korea’s largest retailer, created a shadow QR code that only became visible when the sun was at the correct angle in the sky between midday and 1pm. 

It was all to promote a ‘sunny sale’ mobile site that gave access to special offers, coupons and a download for the e-commerce app.

As a result of the campaign Emart sold more than 12,000 coupons, membership increased 58% on the previous month and sales increased 25% during lunchtime.

However it’s important to bear in mind that the use of QR codes is far more common in South Korea.

And, unlike the UK, they get sunshine. 

Dow Chemicals

Perhaps not a company you would expect to experiment with digital consumer technology, Dow Chemicals placed a QR code in a range of print ads last September.

The ‘Dow Chemicals Solutionism’ campaign linked to mobile video content providing information about the advertised products.

Users could also view social content and blogs related to the adverts.

By the end of the year the codes had been scanned more than 20,000 times.

Transport for London

TfL currently uses QR codes on posters at tube stations to promote its real-time mobile bus timetables.

Using QR codes on the underground seems a daft idea, but the results are encouraging.

Thanks to mobile web consultant Terence Eden, we can see that the codes have been scanned 16,000 times in the past five months.

In March the codes were scanned more than 5,000 times, peaking at 259 scans on April 3,  so usage appears to be increasing over time.

There were initially 400 posters put up at tube stops around London, so the number of scans may seem fairly low.

However, as Eden points out, you need to benchmark that against how many people you would expect to ring a phone number or go to a website published on the same poster.


During New York Fashion Week L’Oreal put QR codes in taxis that linked to how-to videos featuring Yves Saint Laurent and Lancôme beauty products.

Viewers could also buy the products from the website.

While a moving taxi isn’t perhaps the most convenient place to try and get 3G access, L’Oreal was guaranteed a captive audience and drew attention to the codes using calls to action within the cab.

L’Oreal reported a 7% overall purchase conversion rate from the QR codes, while downloads of the app increased by approximately 80% during the five day campaign.

David Moth

Published 3 May, 2012 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (7)

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, marketing at SM Consultant

Really good to see some creative QR codes, their are so many bad ones created that sway people to think that they are useless.

over 6 years ago



Great post, I actually participated in the Heinz campaign when I noticed it on the table @ Chilis.

Another great way to use them, is to have the QR Code be linked to an SMS Opt In list. Then, you can easily provide the link to the mobile website or e-store you desire in the text message. This way, the customer is opted in & you can send them more news, offers, & updates.

over 6 years ago

Panos Ladas

Panos Ladas, Digital Marketing Manager at Piece of Cake

Transport for London case: 16000 scans of a QR code don't mean a thing unless we put in place the cost and the benefit of this activity.

I don't agree that there is a point of comparing an activity to a similar activity but it is important to compare the cost and results of an activity to other solutions available (eg. compare QR codes on a poster that result into people visiting a website to other ways of driving people to a website, lets say AdWords).

over 6 years ago


WebTime Mobile Marketing

I disagree that the 16,000 scans don't mean a thing. The cost of adding the qr code was virtually nothing so any additional traffic should be seen as a success. The point was just to make it easier for the user to get to the website by using the qr code rather than typing it in on the phone

about 6 years ago



Good examples of uses of QR codes. So many are not used to the best extent they could be.. and then others are amazing how well they are thought out.

about 6 years ago



Very interesting applications of QR Code. I think QR Code popularity will be rising very quickly. It is almost default standard.
http://www.pageqrcode.com - Add QR Code to your website

about 6 years ago



Great post on good QR Code use. The only issue is duplication. These were great uses but cannot be duplicated.
There are two issues with QR Codes.
1. Proper use - this is all dependant upon the company using the QR Code for marketing and advertising. The QR Code can be an innovative as one wants but if the destination of the scan is not offering anything of any value it ruins both the QR Code experience as well as a company's reputation.
2. The ugly duckling - Companies must start using unique QR Codes that can become part of the design rather than be treated as an invasion to one.

almost 6 years ago

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