Jon and I were at The Trumpeter after work yesterday when, along with our pints we were offered an opportunity to “Take The Guinness Challenge This March” (It was July). The coasters under our beers (not Guinness, alas) were printed with this challenge along with instructions to “Take A Pic. Text It In.” and an image that looks a little like a QR Code or maybe a black and white version of a Microsoft Tag (the kind with dots).
The details of the promotion say, “Feeling bold? Show us what you’ve got! Send us a photo of this JAGTAG.” My first thought was, if we’re all taking pictures of the same JAGTAG how will we show how bold we are? Not sure, but I continue reading. It appears that AT&T and Verizon customers can send the pic to a short code, 524824, but all others have to email it to Guinnessmarch@jagtag.com. “Look for a bold response, ” it says. Ok.
I’m on Sprint so I grab my phone and open a QR reader app. Oops! This isn’t a QR code. For this I need to open the camera. (I’ve become accustomed to seeing QR codes so opening I-nigma or some other reader has become almost second nature when I see promotions with little square data-matrix-looking images). So I send a picture of the tag to the email address listed and wait. My Nexus S uses Gmail to send email so rather than wait for the mail to come in and send a notification to my phone I just switch over to the Gmail app.
I bailed out at this point and continued later that night from my computer; this is no longer a mobile experience.
The reply from Guinnessmarch to my picture is an email with a link to a video. It won’t play on my computer. Tapping the link on my phone, the video plays for 5-10 seconds and then stops and leaves me staring at a blank page. Backing up and trying again the video doesn’t even start. A bit of a fail there. During this process another email has come in from Guinnessmarch with the subject, “Bold question 1 of 2″ and saying, “Please text back the letter that matches your answer to receive a spot on the team. You are watching basketball and a guy near you is loudly rooting against your team: Do you:
a) Wager him a round
b) Quiet him with stats
c) Victory dance in his face
d) Focus harder on the game
e) Glare at him
f) Change seats
I reply with the letter “C”, the least likely that I would do – Victory dance in his face. A minute or so later I get another email. Subject: “Bold challenge question 2 of 2″ Message: “You prove your team loyalty by painting your:
I’m tempted to reply with d) but decide to go with f) Toenails. I reply with the word, “toenails”. Several minutes later I get a message that says, “We’re sorry, we could not read a JAGTAG in the image you sent. Please send us a picture with an in-focus JAGTAG in the center of the frame. ” Grrrr. I didn’t send an image. This is a fail as far as I go. I should be able to enter the letter or the single word. Fine. I reply with the letter “F” and receive an email saying,
“You have earned the position of:
Team GUINNESS Shooting Guard
You will take a bold outside shot at a beauty on the dance floor, or make an
inside move on a friend of a friend. Now shoot for a bolder brew – GUINNESS.
Your player badge will be sent to you shortly. Download and post it on
Facebook, or use as wallpaper on your phone or computer.
Get more info at www.Facebook.com/GuinnessUS. Now step up and order a
I then received another email with this 176px by 144px (QCIF? Really?) image. Pretty small for my computer.
It’s over. Finally.
What could have saved this campaign?
There were quite a few rough spots in this campaign. Let’s start with the use of a JagTag. There is absolutely no reason to over-complicate this promotion by using a JagTag. Thinking about all the steps required to take a picture and send it and then how only some can use MMS and others need to use email it is a curiosity Guinness US even went through with the promotion. They could have simply used SMS or even a QR code, “Text MARCH to 524824″ They clearly already have the shortcode and with SMS you reach many more people with a much more consistent experience. I suspect someone from JagTag was just out pitching their wares and no one was giving Guinness any strategic guidance.
Now to the video. Video is a nice addition to the mobile experience. That is, when it works. In this case Guinness was using a downloaded .3gp video rather than a hosted, streamed video (i.e., YouTube.com). This makes sense in some ways because more phones can play a .3gp video than can stream video. But, the video didn’t play on my phone – a problem that could likely have been resolved through additional handset testing. In addition, had they detected that I was trying to access the video using my computer they might have sent a format more compatible with the desktop.