QR oh QR– Why have you forsaken me?

by alee330

Too Long; Didn’t Read (TL;DR) at bottom

Allow me to start this brief post with a true story that occurred to me a few weeks ago.

The story begins as all great stories do… with a hankering for some cultural stimulation that just cannot be satisfied with a cup of Earl Gray tea. I decided to embark on a journey with the simple goal of satisfying this urge. My destination was the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC, and as my stallion Silverado was not in riding condition and my Ferrari in the car shop, my only choice was to ride the DC metro. As my journey continued, I soon found myself on the whimsical tracks that carried thousands of consumers to their destinations daily. The journey was long, and I had only my trusted smart phone and sense of adventure to keep my sanity strong. Any other man would have succumbed to the situation, but I managed to weather the storm in a manner that would make Homer in the Odyssey proud. As the sunlight flickered through the windows and glimpses of billboards and buildings flashed before me, I was soon mesmerized by the creative attempts of some marketing ploy no doubt. As my focus grew stronger and my vision steady, I examined what appeared to be an advertisement posted on the metro. There were words and pictures on the ad that looked like any other, but in the corner was a box that made it one out of the others. It was a QR code, just waiting to be scanned, and my curiosity got the best of me, as it always seems to do. I pulled out my trusted sidekick, you know him as smart phone, and I proudly scanned the QR code with great anticipation. This would be my first time using the QR app, as embarrassing as that sounds, but it seemed so right to use my app in a celebration of spontaneity. As my camera focused in and the bar code matched up, the QR was successfully scanned and….


As I stood their defeated with my head hung low, I put my sidekick back in my pocket and muttered… “QR oh QR, why have you forsaken me?”

So, while this story may have been over dramatized and certain facts exaggerated (Stallion named Silverado?), the takeaway of the story is relevant and important. Are QR codes effective marketing tools? Well, I am a fan of the idea and I appreciate the enhanced user involvement and emotional investment that it creates for the consumer, but not every creative idea is a practical idea, and not every practical idea is utilized effectively. You have to ask yourself who and why did they choose to use QR advertisement in an area that has relatively no G signal.

Now I know many of you tech savvy readers are probably pulling your hair out, screaming at me, telling me that the QR links are saved and that I am not properly utilizing the apps potential. But there are two things I want you to keep in mind.

  1. During the actual incident, I instantly became frustrated with the app and automatically created a negative association with the company that sponsored the Ad for their lack of judgment.
  2. I rarely use half the apps on my phone, and as I said before, this was my first time using the QR scanner app even though I have had it for a few months now. The chances of me remembering or even wanting to check the QR link later is highly improbable.

The great thing about good observations is that other people are bound to share your ideas and frustrations. I think the video below can somewhat explain my frustration with poorly placed ads such as the QR code.

TL;DR: QR codes are a creative marketing tool if used effectively and practically.

Cheers to good Marketing!