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?
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”.
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:
Uh. No good. Ok, how about I try another scanner app, this one from ScanLife.
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 scan.mobi 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.