Because of the inflow of cryptocurrency advertisers, this year’s Super Bowl was dubbed the Crypto Bowl, but the big event also solidified the revival of another technology: QR codes. Exchange of cryptocurrencies When Coinbase broadcasted a QR code bouncing around a blank screen for 60 seconds in the hopes of drawing people to its website and a $15 Bitcoin prize, it became one of the most talked-about Super Bowl advertisers(marketing campaign).
Rocket Mortgage, which ranked first in USA Today’s Ad Meter index of the best Super Bowl advertising, disguised a QR code on the T-shirt of one of the characters in its commercial. The code led to a lottery on StockX, a resale platform co-founded by Rocket Mortgage’s chairman.
Liquid Death also included a QR code near the end of its regional ad, offering a discount on its canned water products to the first few people who scanned it. Who’s not to mention the brands that used QR codes as part of their Super Bowl advertisements’ supporting activations.
From obnoxious to mainstream
Despite their widespread use in Asia (particularly China) for tech and retail, QR codes regarded as a gimmick in western advertising, requiring too much effort on the part of consumers to be effective. To some extent, it is still true that most individuals will not scan a QR code offered to them by an advertisement in most cases. However, since marketers began experimenting with QR codes in the mid-2000s, two factors have happened that have lowered the probabilities.
First, starting around 2017, smartphone manufacturers began to integrate QR-code scanners into the cameras of their smartphones, decreasing the barrier to entry. Second, restaurants began substituting paper menus with QR codes as a way to avoid contamination during the Covid-19 outbreak, increasing people’s familiarity with the technology.
We’ve seen a significant surge in the use of QR codes by brands over the last year or so. While making QR codes the centrepiece of a campaign, as Coinbase did, has limited potential, they are becoming a more feasible technique of stimulating client participation.
Here are a few of the most effective examples.
Tribal and DDB, Sydney / Ad-Break Championship for Volkswagen /
Volkswagen Australia used a QR code in a TV commercial to encourage viewers to play a mobile racing game in exchange for a chance to win one of the new Golf GTIs. They take participants to website for those participants who scanned the code with their smartphone where they raced in a race against other ad viewers for the duration of the three-minute commercial break. Players were entered into a drawing to win the GTI if they finished the race and beat the qualifying time.
Tim Woolford, a creative partner at DDB Sydney, told Contagious that employing a QR code allowed them to decrease the entry barrier and encourage more players(marketing campaign).
‘The fact that we didn’t have to download an app was huge for us,’ he said. ‘We’d have to go through the whole process of persuading people that the app is worth installing, then they’d have to do it, and no one wants another bloody app on their phone,’ says the developer. It would have effectively ended the campaign before it had even begun.’
Wunderman Thompson, London / The Homeless Bank Account for HSBC
HSBC collaborated with Shelter, a homeless charity, to make it feasible for persons without a regular address to create a bank account, breaking one of poverty’s vicious cycles.
The bank advertised its new service in bus shelters and train stations, where homeless individuals were most likely to see it. Some of the billboards also had QR codes that directed users to Shelter’s website and invited them to donate to help end homelessness. The donations produced by the QR code, according to the organisation, helped Shelter get over 100 individuals off the street, with one in every five people who scanned the code signing up to become regular supporters.
Publicis Italy, Milan / Playlist Timer for Barilla
Barilla used QR codes on its pasta packaging to direct customers to Spotify, where they could listen to a song that lasted exactly as long as it needed to cook that particular form of pasta to perfection.
The Playlist Timer campaign, developed by Publicis Italy in Milan, harmonised with existing habits (because smart speakers are frequently used in the kitchen) and ensured that clients had the greatest possible experience with Barilla’s products.
The people listen to playlists for more than 508,000 minutes, according to the agency, and Barilla now has 332,220 Spotify followers. They promoted QR codes in more ways than just the QR code (including audio ads to Spotify Free users), but according to the agency, the people listen to playlists for more than 508,000 minutes, and Barilla now has 332,220 Spotify followers.
FCB Chicago’s Boards of Change for the City of Chicago
The city of Chicago reassembled boards used to defend storefronts during Black Lives Matter protests into mimic polling booths and placed QR codes leading to a voter registration site within them.
The Boards of Change campaign, which began in July 2020, initially encouraged residents to participate in the national census, but eventually shifted its focus to encouraging citizens to register and vote in the November 2020 US presidential election.
Boards of Change earned the Grand Prix in the Media category at the 2021 Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity, according to FCB Chicago, and helped Chicago attain a record number of voters in the 2020 national election.