Barcodes boost interactivity

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Universal used a barcode for ‘Scott Pilgrim’
Universal used a barcode for ‘Scott Pilgrim’
Brands are increasingly using interactive barcodes in their marketing efforts to bolster consumer interaction and improve existing campaign elements. Universal Pictures, athletic shoe company Brooks and men's body spray Axe have recently used the technology to drive consumer engagement.

“We live in a content-driven world. People have zero patience in getting the information they want,” said Sandra Crawford Williamson, CMO of SuperMedia, a small business marketing and interactive shop, which will incorporate quick response (QR) codes into Verizon SuperYellow Pages and Frontier SuperPages directories this fall. “This really makes it a one-step scan to find out everything you need.”

Universal Pictures is using a QR code, generated by the Kaywa QR Reader, on movie posters promoting the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which will debut in theaters August 13. The code lets consumers download the movie's trailer.

“You're starting to see those codes used as rich media — or even extensions — to campaigns,” said Doug Neil, SVP of digital marketing at Universal Pictures.

He added that Universal Pictures also used QR codes to promote the film Repo Man earlier this year because barcodes were a major element in the science fiction film's story line. In the film's futuristic plot, people could purchase body parts, which had scannable barcodes. In the marketing campaign, Universal used QR codes on movie posters that gave consumers promotional material — the catalog of body parts that could be purchased in the film, said Neil.

The effort, created with digital agency 360i and mobile barcode firm Red Laser, incorporated mobile barcodes into all creative, including out-of-home posters, print ads, in-theater displays and online and TV ads. 

“Our hook was the uniqueness of the elements of that campaign,” he said.

Marketers generally place a barcode onto a physical asset, such as print material. A consumer can then snap a photo of it with a mobile phone to receive information, visual or video content. QR codes, a subset of interactive barcodes, typically require downloads through smartphones.

Brands are tying interactive barcodes to traditional direct marketing materials. Brooks launched a campaign last month with interactive barcode maker Jagtag to promote its Ghost 3 running shoe. The company used its database to send direct mail pieces, with barcodes, to 10,000 customers of Finish Line, one of Brooks' retail partners. It also placed them on employee T-shirts at 600 Finish Line retail locations.

“We wanted to get in front of consumers in a new way. However, we also wanted to get in front of the [Finish Line] sales associates in a new way,” said Dayna Berger, retail programs manager at Brooks. “From there, we hope the conversation leads to consumers wanting to learn about the smart tag technology — what they need to do to enter and watch the video — and ultimately, about Brooks and our products.”

Brooks will measure video views, visitors to, shoe sales and sweepstakes participants. Berger added that the company will evaluate feedback from sales associates on their in-store interaction with consumers, and what hurdles they experienced with the mobile component.

National Cine Media, a marketing company that helps brands advertise to consumers in theaters and on mobile devices, has used interactive barcodes on in-cinema promotions, such as handouts, posters, drink cups and popcorn bags. It worked with Unilever's Axe brand in May to send comedic video shorts to moviegoers.

Cliff Marks, NCM Media Networks' president of sales and marketing, said the mobile barcodes help brands engage with already interested consumers.

“For the customer, it's interesting because it's completely opt in,” he said. “Anyone who takes part in it has decided they want to know more — they want to get something. If only 2% to 3% opt in, they are very qualified customers. They went out of their way to snap a picture. You can almost be assured that they are going to review and contemplate whatever they get back.”

Ed Jordan, CEO of Jagtag, added
that interactive barcodes also help marketers capture data on location, time of
day and which materials worked best to reach consumers, then use that information for future efforts.

“We have used it in other applications, like for the WWE, where we were capturing consumer data to be able to market to them in the future,” he said.

The WWE teamed with Jagtag last month to enhance its direct mail pieces with interactive barcodes promoting its August 15 “SummerSlam” event. Consumers were able to capture images of the two-dimensional barcode on the direct mail piece with the mobile phone, then forward it through e-mail, short code or Twitter. Consumers who did so received a video montage of WWE talent. The WWE sent the mail piece to 700,000 consumers.

Jordan added that the interactive tags can be placed on almost any physical object — or direct marketing piece – to enable consumers to get digital content.

“[Two-dimensional barcodes] appear to be coming into their own now. The reality is print media has been in kind of a tough spot, and direct mail has been in a bit of a tough spot,” he said. “This is a way…to be able to enhance that to deliver rich media, and turn a static piece of print material into a rich-media experience.”


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