The Mechanic

Yet more reasons why QR won’t take off

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I’ve previously blogged on the problem with QR codes in the UK and Europe. Essentially the issue is about effort vs reward – most campaigns fail to make enough compelling uses of QR to get people scanning them. Two QR campaigns this week provide yet another example of why QR isn’t working. The Indian airline Jet Airways has launched a campaign which uses QR in their in-flight magazine and on Facebook to provide more information to their customers. There’s nothing wrong with that as an aim, but it would seem that all the QR code does is takes the user to their mobile site. Why bother? For starters if I’m on Facebook I’d rather just click a link to take me to further content, and if I’m reading a magazine I’ll just put the URL or do a search for a mobile site. It’s faster and it works better. Jet Airways are looking to extend the use of the codes to their e-tickets. But again, if it just takes users to their mobile site, what’s the point?

How could Jet Airways use QR in a more compelling way? It would be great if my e-ticket had a personal QR code. Scanning that would show me my flight details and perhaps travel details such as the current traffic status, or trains that arrive at the airport in time for my checkin. Maybe I could scan the code and access my own information? Perhaps I could amend the number of checkin bags, or change my inflight meal? Or maybe I could scan the code to get a voucher for a free coffee at one of the over-priced airport cafes? That’s the great thing about QR, it can contain up to 700 words in one little 25mm code. And they can be personalised.

Another campaign that popped up was a trailer for the film The Mechanic. It’s vaguely intriguing. A minute into the film a QR code briefly pops up. If you manage to stop the trailer at the right point and scan the code (not easy), it takes you to another video. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what that video is, because it didn’t work on an iPhone. Nor an Android phone. There’s nothing worse than poor user experience to drive people away from mobile campaigns.

Ultimately the problem with these campaigns is that they will actually increase the likely hood that people won’t use QR codes. All they will do is reinforce the idea that QR is pointless and it doesn’t work. Now is the time for brands to use QR in an exciting, compelling way.