Printing companies use Q Codes for product ID and promotion

Article By Deborah Corn

I like watching The Apprentice. I liked it better when real people were contestants, but since the last few seasons have casted “celebrities” I take what I can get. My interest in the show is marketing based, though admittedly the boardroom scenes can provide a fair amount of reality TV entertainment, and I do get sucked in to the drama. I’m only human.

This past Sunday, the teams were tasked to create an outdoor experience for Farouk Biosilk® Haircare products in NYC. Part of the assignment was also to drive people to FaceBook to “like” the page of the team that provided the best experience, and those likes would translate into additional charity dollars for the winning Project Manager. While the experiences the teams came up with were not that “out of the box” for people like us who have seen some crazy cool stuff, what did have me do a double take was the QR code poster Rapper Little John (in an Uncle Sam costume mind you) brought into view. QR codes, meet primetime TV!

The Good

Despite dwindling ratings, and the NCAA tournament, millions of people were still watching. Little John explained to Farouk that people can use their phone to scan the code and it would either take them to FaceBook to like their page, or register as a like for their page. So despite the fact that I wasn’t clear on what this code did, the viewers did get a quick lesson on what those weird things they keep seeing everywhere are, and what they do.

The Bad

Besides referring to them as barcodes, the process of NEEDING TO GET A READER wasn’t explained, or was, but wasn’t aired. The way it came across was that you pointed your phone at the poster, and magically you were transported somewhere else. I just wish that one little tidbit of information, basically the essence of how QR codes work, was included.

The OMG!

Though they had good intentions and the forethought to include the QR code on their signage, what a disaster here. The code itself was minuscule, and it was knee level from the ground. There was also no information about the code – like SCAN ME, or download a QR code reader and scan me, or scan to like us on FaceBook – the minimal basic information. Of course, there was no call to action at all on the signage, so it was just a marketing mess.

You’re HIRED!

Props to Little John for using a QR code at all. This is his second time on Celebrity Apprentice (this season is All-Stars) and he has consistently been a solid marketer and idea man. He is a great mix of business with pop culture savvy and I hope he wins!

You’re FIRED!

Ok, The Apprentice a TV show, not a master class on marketing, but not executing some of the tasks “correctly” doesn’t help those of us who actually make a living at it. I’m glad a QR code make its way into millions of living rooms, but Farouk seemed more excited about the 4 x 6 postcard the other team made which could be taken away from the event. The QR code had to be scanned on site, either from Little John’s poster or kneeling by a banner, and people were not given any handouts.

By the time The Apprentice ended, Little John’s team had lost and their Project Manager was sent home. Both teams had one piece of the cross media puzzle, but neither solved it by putting them together. Had they figured that out, QR code ratings might have skyrocketed!

Article By Deborah Corn  the Intergalactic Ambassador to The Printerverse for PrintMediaCentr, an industry speaker and blogger, and a contract Print Production and Integrated Project Manager at PrintProQuo providing 24 years of experience in print production and advertising agency management. She is the founder and cultivator of Print Production Professionals, the largest independently owned and operated print-related group on LinkedIn. Deborah also works behind the scenes with Printers, Suppliers and Industry Organizations helping with their cross media marketing and social media endeavors. 

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