Category Archives: Video

Rotocube Displays A QR Fail

This morning I was sitting at the kitchen table reading a magazine as my wife voluntarily updated my LinkedIN profile, which she said was not quite “up to par.” I’d finished an article and was leisurely flipping through on my way to the next when I saw an advertisement. I’m not really even sure why I looked but I suspect that it was the QR code included in the ad that caught my attention. Having quickly read the ad I was genuinely curious about the product. I didn’t completely understand what “RotoCube Bulletin Towers” were and the ad seemed to promise a video if I scanned the QR code.

I’d long since stopped scanning QR codes in magazines as they seem to alway disappoint me; they never really seem to make the whole scanning effort worth it. But this morning I had some extra time and my phone happened to be within an arm’s reach (Aren’t they always within and arm’s reach? It’s a little sad.) So I grabbed my now aging Nexus S, tapped open iNigma, my sole scanning app, and aimed the camera at the QR code.

image: Rotocube magazine ad

I actually held a glimmer of hope that this time I’d get a product video that showed how these things worked. Again, however, my hopes were dashed on the jagged rocks of Failville.

Rotocube-QR-Result-fail

My phone was directed to a web page.  And one of the worst one’s I’ve ever encountered on my mobile phone. It was not, of course, designed for mobile devices. But, more importantly, where’s the video?? I scanned to get a video not a web page!  The phone screenshot above is approximately the real size of my phone. Look how tiny that page is! Do you see a video? Or even anywhere one might possibly be? Arrrrgh!.

Fail.

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What could have saved this campaign?

With risk of stating the obvious, there’s one simple thing that could have saved this debacle: linking the QR code to an actual VIDEO.

Fulfill the promise
The folks who put together the print ad had a good idea; that the phone can be used to supply more information about the product than the ad can deliver. They even went so far as to anticipate that a video would be a great way to do that – I agree. But this is mobile. You can’t promise a video and then link to a page where someone has to pinch/zoom and pan around to find a possible video to click on. In mobile, you have to give them what you promised in as few clicks as possible.

But you’re not done yet
Providing a direct link to a product video would have been great and really all one could expect. But if you’re really going to capitalize on the power and impulse of mobile the video needs to work hard. Not only does it need to deliver a clear message in a short period but it needs to allow people to engage. In this case Rotocube might have asked the viewer to provide their email address in order to receive more information or a phone number where a sales rep could call them. The video should leave them with a call-to-action and an easy way to continue the engagement.

 

What do you think they should have done? 

 

ABC Mobile: Lost In The Mobile Abyss

Like many smartphone users, I like to watch videos on my phone when I have a few minutes of down-time. (There are 200 million mobile video playbacks every day on YouTube.) I’ll even watch full episodes of TV shows if I’m going to be sitting somewhere for awhile, like on the bus or in a waiting room. It was the hope for access to full episodes of The View (just kidding) that had me typing in ABC.com on my computer to see what’s available.

At the ABC website there was a menu link for “Mobile”.  It looked promising, I mean, what other content would ABC be offering via mobile if not video? Clicking the link I was treated to the following page and there it was, Mobile Video On Demand! Nice.

Now, how do I get the vids? I don’t see an iTunes icon or little green Android that would point me to a mobile app. Checking the fine print I see that the service is indeed available on Sprint (my carrier) and, “To find out how to access ABC Mobile Video On Demand by texting ABCTV to 22288.”  Simple enough, right? Nope. Here’s what I got back; a message from Sprint:

“9230: Message failed. Shortcode may have expired or shortcode texting may be blocked on your account. Msg 1051″

What the..? How do I get the VOD? This short code was my only option!

FAIL #1.

I try the other mobile ‘offerings’ with increasing frustration.

Text Alerts:

FAIL #2: No list of shows to get alerts on! I’m offered the opportunity to figure it out for myself.

Live TV:

FAIL #3: No way to get the service, which appears to be only available on my carrier.

This is starting to get silly.  As a last resort and with little real hope, I pick up my phone and tap ABC.com into the browser. Perhaps they have a mobile site that will help me. Nope. It’s their full-site:

image: ABC.com on a phone

actual size

Not pretty, and the video links take me to the full-on video player. I try adding ‘/mobile’ to the URL:

image: ABC.com Mobile

actual size

Ugh. Same thing, a non-mobile site. It doen’t even pinch/zoom very well. In fact, the site crashed my phone’s browser forcing it to close. Neat.

FAIL #4.

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What could have saved this campaign?

There is really only one thing to talk about here. I wasn’t able to actually get any of the content so all I can review is the way ABC Mobile is making their content available (or not available as the case may be).

1) Using a short code is a great way to allow users to discover mobile content but it should work on all carriers you claim the content is available on. In this case the content seems to be available on Sprint but the SOLE access method, a short code, is not.  ABC should remove Sprint from the carrier list or figure out how to get them to provision the short code.

2) When promoting content, in this case alerts and live TV, ALWAYS provide a simple and clear call-t0-action so interested users can actually engage on their device. Marketing 101, really.

3) Create a mobile web site and detect mobile devices that come to your top-level domain. This doesn’t have to be complex. A simple mobile landing page with instructions on how to get mobile content would be better than directing to a non-mobile site with rich content and flash elements.

To summarize, it appears the mobile efforts at ABC Mobile are fragmented, lack coordination and and exhibit little understanding of how to engage a mobile user.

iLoop Showcases Super8 Mobile Fail

I’ve been receiving promotional SMS messages from iLoop Mobile. Their “iLoop Market” program is intended to showcase mobile campaigns that iLoop thinks are good and interesting. Last week’s iLoop Market offering arrived on-time and on-schedule. Here’s what they like:

So far so good. I tap the url (http://super8.mtiny.mobi), which looks like it was made for mobile so my expectations start to rise (seriously, few sites are actually made for mobile). Here’s what I see as I hold my phone in the ‘normal’ (i.e., vertical) position:

Hmm. Made for mobile? Doesn’t look like it. I try rotating the phone to check the horizontal view – maybe it was made for a wider screen (e.g., iPad)?

Hmm. The sky and clouds. I scroll down to see the menu I already caught a glimpse of a second ago.

This is starting to look better. It fits the width of the screen nicely and doesn’t require any horizontal scrolling. Though, why I had to scroll down so far to see it I don’t know. Curious about the movie I tap the VIDEO link. I’m taken to a page with the word ‘TRAILER’ and an image. I try tapping the image. The screen flickers but nothing seems to be happening. I click again. Same. Then, I notice the notifications area on the top of my phone. Something appears to be downloading. Hmm. Ok. I open the notifications screen and see that I’m downloading two copies of a file with a HUGE name that ends in ‘.tv’. I’m assuming this is a trailer for the movie. I cancel one download and 8 minutes(!) later have a video to watch.

Notice the file size – more than 5 megabytes; they could have warned me.. This video is larger than most apps I’ve downloaded. Well, I waited long enough for the download, I look forward watching it. I tap the video and a very high quality video starts to play.

Problem is, I don’t hear anything. It is a silent trailer? I put my ear closer to the phone’s speaker and while I do hear something it is soooo quiet. I have to keep my ear so close to the phone that I can’t watch at the same time. The audio is also messed up somehow. The voices sound like they are under water. I can’t understand a word.

FAIL.

I go back to the web site and try tapping ‘UPDATES’. A page loads that asks for my phone number, email and birthdate.

They don’t really tell me what they propose to ‘update’ me on. Hmmm. I’m on a mobile phone so I guess they’ll send stuff to my phone but why do they want my email and birthdate? Reluctantly I enter the information (though I did shave a few years off the birthdate!), check the “I hereby certify” box and tap Submit. A largely blank page loads thanking me for signing up and assuring me I’ll be the first to know about all the latest news for Super8 (apparently things will be changing often). A minute or so later I receive a text-message from 33287:

Really? They want my date of birth? I JUST entered it into the web page along with my email and mobile number!  They already know my (fake) birthdate. I’m not doing this.

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

Well before we get into how this should be fixed I want to acknowledge that I received the url from iLoop Mobile and not from Paramount. I don’t know if Paramount intended for the URL to be accessed from anything other than an iPad, on which it works well. iLoop, however, should know better than to promote such a broken experience. Is this what their clients can expect? I’m just sayin’.

First, this site needs to fit the screen in the vertical position. This is the most natural and likely position from which someone will be clicking on the url from an SMS.

Second, the image of the sky and clouds is cool but this is mobile. Get me to the content without making me scroll down. The link menu on the web site should be ‘above the fold’.

Third, the font needs additional contrast. It’s dark grey over black and some of it is very, very small. Mobile – and the inherent variety of devices/screens – calls for something more crisp and easy to read.

Fourth, use a lower quality video, and stream it rather than download it to the device; space can be precious on mobile devices. This also helps you be data-plan friendly; not all users have unlimited data and 5mb is a good size chunk of a person’s data plan. If you insist on the high quality be sure to tell people up front. Video is a challenge in the mobile environment so be sure to test on many devices and networks.

Fifth, tell users what they are going to receive updates on and by what means. The subscription page asked for both mobile number and email address. What will be sent to these? Set a clear expectation here.

Sixth,  explain why you want – and require – a birthdate. Blatant and unexplained solicitation of data creates suspicion, particularly in a personal medium like mobile.

Seventh, connect the databases. The subscription page required a mobile number and a birthdate. The resulting SMS should reflect that knowledge and NOT ask for birthdate again. It should simply thank the person for subscribing and ask them to confirm by replying with “YES” or “OK”.

Eighth, test the program on multiple devices. This one worked ok on an iPad using WiFi but completely broke down on an Android phone using 3G service.

Guinness Tries Mobile With a JagTag

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).Image: Guinness JAGTAG Coaster

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:
a) Face.
b) Car.
c) House.
d) Spouse.
e) Boss.
f) Toenails.

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
GUINNESS!”

I then received another email with this 176px by 144px (QCIF? Really?) image. Pretty small for my computer.

Guinness BadgeIt’s over. Finally.

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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.

Essence Still Trying (and Failing) With Mobile

Essence magazine has content that they are trying to let mobile readers see. It’s just that, well, you can’t see it.  We’ve written about Essence before here on MobileMarketingFail.com.  I decided to try them again to check in on their latest efforts. Here’s how it went.

The most recent edition of Essence prompts theimage: Essence Mobile Tag reader to scan the (Microsoft) tag to “Tune in to Shake Your Beauty on Essence.com.” Why this is compelling I’m not quite sure but I’m not a subscriber nor do I even read the magazine so perhaps there’s something I don’t know about “Shake Your Beauty.” Also, I can only guess that the tag will take me to a YouTube video based on previous experience but it doesn’t really tell me what I’m in for. Oh, well.

I pull out my HTC Hero and look through several screens of app icons until I find the one for Microsoft Tag Reader. I only do this because I happen to know that this style of barcode is an MS Tag and not because the page tells me it’s a MS Tag.. How many other people will know this? So I scan the code. (On a side-note here, one of the things that I like about he MS Tag is that you are taken directly to the destination rather than having to click ‘OK’ like you do in many other tag readers; one less step.) The scan does indeed appear to be taking me to YouTube, just as I’d guessed. And I’m on an actual video rather than at the Essence channel main page. It appears to be a behind-the-scenes video with Janet Jackson, the cover model this month. So far so good! Now I just need to play the video.  I look around for the superimposed arrow that starts the video but don’t see it. What I do see, however, is an unfortunate line of text at the bottom of the video box:

image: Essence mobile video fail

"Video cannot be played on mobile"

“Video cannot be played on mobile”

Sigh.

Fail.

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What could have saved this campaign?

Essence is getting close with this effort. They really are. That is, they are getting close to moving out of the fail column by having something that actually works. In this case the issue boils down to two things that Essence failed to do, test and re-test.

Someone on Essence marketing team should have rounded up 5 or 6 models of smartphone and tested the experience prior to print.  Any problem that comes up at that point can be solved before printing or, at worst, the tag and call-to-action could be removed.

So testing would have saved the campaign from outright failure but there are other improvements that may help such as a more engaging call-to-action. Tease the reader with a hint about what is ‘behind’ the tag. What’s so special that the reader should pull out their phone and go through all the steps? Additionally, a mobile-optimized web page into which the videos are embedded can allow Essence to control the experience a little better and give the reader additional things to do on their mobile; a direct link to a video is something of a dead-end.

TIME Magazine Frames a FAIL

A recent post by ChinWonder had me trying yet another QR code. The code didn’t work for her so I thought it may be a FAIL worth talking about.  Well, the QR code worked for me but here’s what I found instead.

The Time Frames project is a web-based effort to organize history into some broad categories, or frames, through which you can explore related content from the TIME

image:Time Mag pop-up ad

Pop-Up Ad

archives.  Not a bad idea, I guess.  That is, until you try it on your mobile phone. It’s true, the site does load, though verrry slowly and not before a pop-up ad that is also too big for

the screen. Who knows how much of my mobile data plan is being chewed up by an image-rich site that is designed for broadband Internet users?

Panning across and up and down the site is a neat trick enabled by the touch screen on my phone the technique makes it hard to understand how, exactly, the page is organized. I tried zooming out to fit the whole site on the screen but then the text was impossible to read so I had to zoom back in and continue panning. As I do this, however, I notice a blank space with the notice, “We’re sorry. HTML5 players are currently not enabled for this account.” Huh? Who’s account?image:Time Mag Bad HTML Player What is an HTML5 player anyway? Something is broken there. There are also several flash elements on the page that are trying to load (and never will on iPhones) with intermittent success. Disregarding these I selected an article on Pope John Paul II from 1984 and the slow page-loading process started again. Sigh.

This time I scroll all the way to the bottom of the page just to see exactly how big this page is (I don’t have much patience for long articles).  It isn’t terribly long but there is a page counter that says I’m on page one of eight. Forget it. But wait! At the bottom of the page is a little box with an image of a mobile phone that says, “Read TIME Mobile on Your Phone.” Yay! A mobile version! Click. Wait. Wait some more. I’m taken to another non-mobile web page with the header ‘TIMEMobile’ and five tabs, one each for Android, iPad, iPhone, Blackberry and Mobile Site. Not being a big app fan I select the Mobile Site. The page loads – quicker this time, which is promising – and now the new sub headline says,

image: Time Mobile

TIMEMobile

“mobile.time.com The easy way to access Time.com from your smartphone.” Ok.. I was really just expecting to go right to the mobile site but it appears the editors at TIME want me to click one more time. Fine. I try clicking the big, red ‘mobile.time.com’ and…nothing. It’s not a link. I can’t click anywhere on the page to actually get to the mobile site! They have a mobile site and I can’t even get to it without typing it into my phone’s browser.

I’m done. FAIL.

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What might have saved this campaign?
Between spotty QR scanning success and the lack of access to the mobile site this campaign is in pretty tough shape.  At the very heart of TIME magazine’s problem here is that they are not recognizing mobile devices that access their site and providing a device-appropriate experience. Layered on top of that are efforts like Time Frames that don’t create a mobile version yet encourage access via mobile device. Perhaps the Time Frames team should read this.
Time needs a more strategic approach to mobile and really re-think their web experience with mobile at the center rather than mobile as an add-on. All project teams need to be in sync on this. In addition, they need to test the user experience from a variety of devices and ask themselves if broken video players and flash elements are acceptable and in keeping with their brand; I suspect it isn’t.

Reebok Fails with MMS

From Madeline Moy

I have discovered that my LG enV Touch phone can’t read QR codes or Microsoft Tags. However, it does take great photos.

So when I saw a Reebok EasyTone ad in “Shape” magazine that involved taking a photo of a “SnapTag” and sending it to an e-mail address or phone number, I thought, cool, I can finally participate in one of these mobile campaigns.image:Reebok in Shape

The directions next to the tag said: “Snap a picture of the Reebok EasyTone logo and send it to reebok@snaptag.mobi or 949.331.8147. You will receive an exclusive workout video from Reebok and automatically be entered to win a collection of Reebok gear.”

I took a photo of the SnapTag and sent it to the e-mail address. Nothing happened. I took another picture, and I sent it to the phone number. This time I got an immediate response. Unfortunately it said, “We are unable to read the image you sent. If it looks fuzzy to you it is fuzzy to us. Send another photo of the logo with the ring. Std Msg rates apply.”

The photo I sent didn’t look fuzzy to me, but I went ahead and took another photo. I sent it, and I received an SMS message with just a YouTube URL.  I couldn’t click on the link from my phone so I tried to access it on my computer, but all I got was a page that said, “The video you requested is not available.”

FAIL.

At this point I gave up. I had known that I probably wouldn’t have been able to watch the Reebok video on my phone, but it was disappointing not to be able to even access them using a computer. And I was put off by the tone of the text messages I received. They weren’t friendly or helpful and seemed to blame me for not being able to use my phone properly.

Kelly: I also tried this campaign sending the image to the email address I received an email response with subject=”Reebok” (that’s it?) and the body of the message was just a YouTube link. Was I entered to win a collection of Reebok gear or not? It doesn’t say. The video was a huge let-down. Some actress giving a light endorsement of Reebok EasyTone shoes. All this work for an infomercial? Sheesh.

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What could have saved this campaign?
It was not with clear understanding that Reebok picked a technique that didn’t require a smartphone. That is, the SnapTag only requires a phone with a camera and MMS abilities – far more phones that just smartphones. The problem, of course, is that the payoff was a YouTube video (and ONLY a video), which is the domain of smartphones almost exclusively.
1) The return SMS should have included a statement about being included in the contest as well as an easy link to type into a browser for those who can’t watch YouTube videos. Better yet, bypass YouTube and use a mobile streaming service, which works on far more devices.
2) The video needed to offer more; more entertainment, more information, even just a more exclusive, behind-the-scenes feel to it as promised.

Kelly

Essence FAILs on Sex & Love

Page 12 of the October issue of Essence magazine contained a teaser.  It promised, “Extra on Essence” for those who scanned with their mobile phones the colorful 2D barcodes that image: Essence pagewere presumably scattered throughout the magazine.

Leafing through the pages I did indeed see a barcode when I came to an article titled Men @ Work featuring Blair Underwood, Boris Kodjoe, and Lance Gross. Just above the tag the bold type promised, “Watch exclusive video from our shoot with Boris, Lance, and Blair now!” Interesting idea. Give us some exclusive content from behind the scenes, a little peek into the working lives of gorgeous celebrities.  I kept leafing. I was doing a bit of a survey to see just how many times barcodes had been used.  Turns out they were used twice not including the instructional teaser at the front of the magazine. I was a little underwhelmed by this. As if they were reluctant but willing to give it a try; nothing too crazy.  (There was actually one more but it was provided by an advertiser, not Essence.)

I turned back to page 111 where I saw the other of the two barcodes. This one was on a one-page article titled Sex & Love with the subtitle Single Man of the Month featuring Alejandro C. Apparently Alejandro is single advertising executive from NYC who deems himself affectionate. The only way to get more about Alejandro at that moment was the promise of More Videos that lay behind the colorful barcode.  Perhaps I’d see an interview or one of his own home videos? Interesting possibilities. I would think seeing him in action would make the girls out there more likely to reach out to him via the email address that was provided. image: Essence YouTube

So out came my trusty mobile phone. Scanning the tag worked as expected and it appeared I was being directed to a YouTube.com site. Indeed, I was. When the page finished loading I was looking at the image to the right. Uh..Where’s Alejandro? Do I need to subscribe? Is he one of the 204 Uploads? Is he a playlist? You know, to be fair, the little tag box just said, “More Videos.” It didn’t say, “More Alejandro videos.” Perhaps my expectations were wrong – being just a man.

So I turn to page 131 with Blair Underwood and snap that code to see what I get. After all, this one actually promises, “Watch exclusive video from our shoot with Boris, Lance, and Blair now!” Expectation = set. It’s not me, people. The result? Same. No behind the scenes video. Just the front door of the Essence YouTube.com channel.

FAIL.

At this point the effort was a failure. I did, however, play the role of super-enthusiastic reader-with-too-much-time and I tried all options on the page. Subscribe wanted my Google password – nope. Uploads contained just that, uploaded vids but not the one I was looking for as far as I could tell. And Playlists had something called Extra on Essence but nothing happened when I clicked it. More FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?
This one would have been easy to move to the Win column of the mobile marketing tally sheet simply by pointing the barcodes (Microsoft Tags, actually) to actual videos. That assumes that the videos have been uploaded, of course (details, details).  Had someone at Essence (with an eye toward the user) actually tested the barcodes prior to going to print I think this miss would have been caught.