15 Simultaneous QR Fails by Butler at Home

It came in the mail with the rest of the ‘junk.’ Every U.S. household receives them in one form or another. Sometimes the coupon offers are stacked inside a Valpak envelope. This one, from The Butler At Home, is in booklet format in glossy full color.

This month, as you can see, there is a QR code displayed just above the mailing label. ┬áNice. It even comes with at least some attempt at instructions, “Scan with Smartphone”, though I’m not sure anyone new to the whole QR code thing would get it. (In fact, there was an older student in the course I teach at the University of Washington who, when told to scan the QR on the coffee cup simply waved his new iPhone phone over the code in a conjuring motion, like waving a magic wand. He had no idea what ‘scan’ meant.)

I went ahead and scanned the code and, you guessed it, I was directed to the Butler at Home main web site. To be fair, the home page wasn’t too bad. Clicking through, though resulted in long lists of offers in type too small to tap with fingers like mine (they’re not sausages but they aren’t dainty either). Oh, well.

I then spent the next 15 minutes or so flipping through the coupon book for other QR codes. There were 14 others on a variety of ads for companies ranging from restaurants to furniture:

  1. Pearl Bar & Dining
  2. Valentine Roofing
  3. Intuitive Integration
  4. Le Grand Bistro
  5. Discount Tile Outlet
  6. Solatube Daylighting
  7. Solarstar Attic Fans
  8. Queen Anne Upholstery
  9. Woodmark Homes
  10. Ballard Refinishers
  11. Agave Cocina& Cantina
  12. Bath Simple (more about this one below)
  13. RC Concrete
  14. Eastside Insulation

Not ONE of these codes direct you to a mobile web site/page. Not one.

A couple of the sites were marginal at best; if I were really motivated I might find what I was looking for. The rest were what you’d expect. Terrible.

There was one I couldn’t test though, the one for Bath Simple. Here’s a pic.

The QR code had been reduced to such a small size that my QR scanner wouldn’t scan it.

Notably, all but the Butler at Home and Bath Simple codes were created using MyQR.co – I noticed the common domain before being redirected. The former two were linked directly to their respective sites. It’s almost as if the QR effort was coordinated centrally by The Butler at Home. Maybe they shouldn’t do that.



What could have saved this campaign?

This is one the flimsiest efforts at ‘doing mobile’ that I’ve ever seen. It appears that there was some level of central coordination by Butler Publications but the result was the same mistake made over and over and over. Here are a couple redeeming thoughts:

  1. Point the QR codes to mobile web sites/pages. This is painfully obvious but so basic.
  2. Have the QR codes actually deliver the offer to the mobile device. The QR could start a text message that requests the $10 lunch certificate. Then I might actually go there for lunch in the next day or two.
  3. Dedicate some space at the front of the booklet describing these new fangled square things.  Tell them that they need a scanner app and where to get one.
  4. Coach your advertisers on how to give a decent mobile experience by building a simple mobile landing page. There are free services they can use to do this.

2 thoughts on “15 Simultaneous QR Fails by Butler at Home

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  2. mobilemaincourse

    Point 3 is spot on. Most often these codes will just state something like “Point your camera phone here”. I’ve seen people trying to scan these using their camera phones expecting some sort of genie to pop out without knowing they need a scanner which is a piece of software.


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