QRC : serious marketing tool or gimmick?

h4. Quick Response Codes (QRC) were developed in the automotive industry to track parts. You may well have seen these in use on the back of receipts, on hoardings or on printed collateral and advertising - but what are they?


The QR Code is basically a bar code format that can be automatically read by an application on mobile phones via the camera facility. Built in apps recognise the code and link the viewer to a webpage, telephone number, video clip, music file, or text message. They have become very popular in Japan and are fast becoming the next hot marketing tool for the mobile generation.

Given the surge in smartphones and the Gartner predictions for web browsing (see below), I suggest you may well see a lot more QRCs on products, literature, advertising, business cards, stationery, tickets, invitations… They are easy to implement and quite intriguing.

QR Codes have been put to various uses, from helping conferences run more efficiently to linking t-shirt labels to MP3 files. Now German company Qkies have given the QR Code the edible treatment, combining them with cookie mix to create munch-able personalised messages.


Qkies : a cooperative project of Juchem Gruppe, a German food trade company, and DFKI, the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence can be used as a playful alternative for a variety of things, from party invitations to business cards. Consumers make and bake the cookies before decorating them with the enclosed QR Codes, printed on edible paper. The recipient of the cookies scans the QRC with their phone to be directed to either a video on YouTube, a photo on Flickr or a personalized web page containing a specific message, as dictated by the sender.

We introduced QR codes onto the Helpful Holidays brochure. This is a really useful tool for HH as it crosses the boundaries of print with a digital experience. Users get to see the lates information, photographs, videos and live booking data. We track the use of QR codes on the HH literature which the marketing team can then use to understand their audience better, tailor marketing initiatives and use for analysis purposes.

!/admin/resources/hhqrc.jpg(Helpful Holidays QRC)!

h2. So. Gimmick or serious marketing tool?

Ultimately it's going to depend on how this technology is used, I'm sure we'll see plenty of gimmicks. However, QRC uses a intrinsic part of human nature... curiosity. I know I can't help myself when it comes to using newfound gadgets and QR Codes are intriguing.

Brands are continually competing for our attention. We are going to see a lot more QR Codes in general advertising - and perhaps not just advertising, but instances where information can be linked from printed matter, such as: timetables - find out when the next bus is due; brochures - link through to up-to-date information ; concert advertising - link through to immediate booking.

The creative solutions are endless. Worth considering for your next campaign? Talk to us.

by David Turnbull > Third-party solutions

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