Monthly Archives: May 2012

Create Jobs For USA Not Recruiting with Mobile

Jobs are important. In fact they’ll likely be the leading topic during this year’s political debates and we’ll be sick of all the talk. Fortunately, Create Jobs For USA (, part of the Opportunity Finance Network, is actually doing something more than just talk.

They are advertising on billboards. And asking those of us with jobs to donate a mere $5 to the cause.image: Create Jobs Billboard

As I drove by this billboard I was reminded of the Red Cross efforts to raise money in $5 and $10 increments following the disasters in Haiti and Japan. I wondered if this was a similar thing. Prepared to pull out my mobile phone at the next traffic light I looked for the instructions. But there weren’t any! Only a small, though memorable, URL. There was no call-to-action.

I stopped to take the picture but I didn’t even bother to pull up the web site on my phone. I’ve tried that before and smaller organizations, particularly non-profits, just aren’t there yet with mobile and I’d end up at a full blown site designed for a desktop computer.

From where I was there was nothing I could do for them except try to remember the URL for later.



What could have saved this campaign?

Create Jobs For USA just plain forgot mobile. It never occurred to them.

Without going into the appropriateness of a mobile call-to-action on a billboard (not usually a good idea because people are driving) they could have at least tried. Here’s what they might have done:

1) Allow readers to donate via their mobile phone. If they don’t qualify for the Haiti-style approach where the $5 gets added to the mobile phone bill – there are restrictions for this – they could use text messaging to start the process then link donors off to Paypal via their mobile phone to make payment. (Atomic Mobile offers a service like this) The billboard would include something like, “Text JOBS to 12345.”  They could even leverage their partnership with Starbucks so that Starbucks would match all mobile donations.

2) Create a mobile site and link it to their desktop site. This mobile site would be laser-focused on telling the story and generating donations. Anyone driving by (as a passenger, of course) could then just use their phone to go to the site and donate. They should still do this, it isn’t too late.

Kingsford Charcoal Burns Up a Matrix Code

I’m a griller. That is, I like to cook food on a grill. A charcoal grill to be specific (gas grill lovers, stand down!). So it should be no surprise that, when given the chance, I buy my charcoal in bulk. In other words, I buy it at Costco.

It’s springtime, so Costco is probably – pardon the pun – burning through the bags of Kingsford – specially packaged in a two 18lb pack just for Costco. Interesting. Kingsford offers a pack of charcoal you can ONLY get through Costco. Shows you the purchasing power of Costco, right?

image: Kingsford Briquettes with 2D code

Not only do I NOT see these ‘Competition’ briquettes anywhere else but I never see Kingsford in 18lb bags (let alone two bags).

Notice, though, the “Value Size” highlight that includes the call to action, “Scan for grilling tips and tricks”.

image: Kingsford 2D Code Call-to-Action

Next to that is a…. barcode? It kind of looks like a QR code but it’s not quite right. Looks different somehow. Having scanned many  barcodes I grab my Android phone and tap to start the i-nigma app, which seems good at scanning most barcodes. The result:

image: Kingsford Briquettes i-nigma scan result

Uh. No good. Ok, how about I try another scanner app, this one from ScanLife.

image:Kingsford Briquettes 2D code Error

Still no good. Ok, how about the ShopSavvy App?: Nope won’t scan.

Ok, um Barcode Scanner?: Huh Uh. Returns just a a number, 05415400001013127.

What about RedLaser? That’s a good app!: Grr.. won’t scan.

QuickMark app?: Same as above, just a number.

The package says go to to get a scanner but why should I? I already have half a dozen of them. And none of them work!

I’m done. FAIL.


What could have saved this campaign?

The world of 2D barcodes as a marketing tactic is still relatively new. Many marketers, designers, printers and entrepreneurs understand that a 2D code can help drive traffic to a web site, video, or even a contact card. What they don’t understand is the mobile user, who doesn’t have the time or patience to download an app just to scan a barcode when they (rightfully so) have already done that in order to scan some other, similar looking code.

Kingsford (hopefully not at the insistence of our friends at Costco who’s headquarters are  a few miles away) has, for two years running, chosen to use a proprietary 2D barcode system proffered by AT&T Mobile Barcode Services. Like Microsoft Tags, codes created with this service – technically Matrix codes – can only be read by the scanning app offered by the barcode system itself. In this case, AT&T’s Code Scanner.  Who among the barcode scanning, smartphone toting world has an AT&T Code Scanner app? No one.

Kingsford has lacked the guidance that would show them that there is a serious battle among only two players in the 2D barcode world, QR codes and Microsoft Tags and any other proprietary code is the equivalent of dead on arrival.

Simply put, they needed to use a QR code.