Tag Archives: Stevens Pass

FedEx Ships A Failed QR Code

Marketers placing QR codes on vehicles is nothing new. FedEx is only the most recent example. Check out the coverage over at www.wtfqrcodes.com. Others include Steven’s Pass Ski Resort’s QR on a bus and Tissot’s QR on a Nascar vehicle.

The FedEx QR warrants special coverage, however, as it provides a unique experience:

image: QR code on FedEx Van

image source: Tag It Up, LLC

The copy accompanying the QR codes says, ”It’s a whole new package. Help us open it!” A but cryptic but one could argue that it might generate curiosity.

Assuming the van is stopped and your curiosity is piqued you can grab your smartphone, open the scanner app (when oh when will barcode scanning software be embedded in the regular camera software??) and scan away. Just be sure you’re not stepping into traffic as this particular QR is on the street side of the van. Now, scan!

image: FedEx QR Scan Fail

Ouch. Who is this ‘ScanLife’ anyway? Are they related to FedEx? Either way,

FAIL.

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What could have saved this campaign?

As far as QR codes on vehicles go it could be argued that FedEx trucks spend a decent amount of time parked at drop-off and pick-up locations. And while there, shipping-related personnel might have the opportunity, inclination and time to scan the QR code. While this is a cognitive stretch, I won’t dwell on it. Generally, however, vehicles are just not good candidates for QR codes.

Aside from the vehicle issue the other problem is testing and follow-through. FedEx is using a service called ScanLife to create QR code campaigns. The person in charge of the campaign has apparently neglected to activate the campaign in the ScanLife system. There is one sure-fire way to catch this sort of problem, testing. It is not enough to slap a QR code on marketing materials and call it a day. Testing must occur at all points of the campaign as noted in our handy How-To Guide. Testing would surely have saved this one.

Shazam Sacked Advertisers at the SuperBowl

I know the Superbowl is long over and forgotten but there is a lesson in mobile marketing that has emerged.

In mobile marketing circles there was quite a bit of hype about how mobile would be used by advertisers this year. There were one or two on-screen QR codes but viewers needed to be lightning fast to scan them. Then there were audio ID apps that monitored broadcast audio and delivered – or attempted to deliver – a second screen complement to what was playing on the main screen. Shazam is one such app that viewers could use to ‘get more’ about nearly half the advertisements in the game.  But I think both the folks at Shazam as well as the advertisers they worked with either failed to recognize the true SuperBowl experience or ignored it. It’s my opinion that the advertisers got sacked on this one. Read why user context is so critical for mobile in Greg Hickman’s review of this fail over at the Thumbfound blog.

-K

Stevens Pass: Pure Fail

By now it’s not news. QR codes are popping up everywhere. Sometimes they offer real value for the extra effort and result in a generally positive experience. More often than not, though, it seems like marketers (or non-marketers as the case may be) toss common sense out the window. The typical QR fail is one that simply dumps you off to a desktop web site that is impossible to read and navigate. There are far too many of those to write about on this blog. QR fails you’ll read about here will have something special to them and hopefully be more instructive than “you need to build a mobile web site”.

Last week, in the pouring Seattle rain, I pulled behind a city bus and noticed an ad for a local ski resort called Stevens Pass. It boasted some copy about a $50 special and a QR code. I’d heard about QR codes on buses but I’d only ever seen SMS codes (i.e., text BLAH to shortcode).  I didn’t even try to scan it. I took a picture of it, which isn’t easy (or safe) when driving in the rain at night.

image: Stevens Pass Bus QR

I’ve scanned enough QR codes in different environments to know that there was very little chance of getting this code scanned. I’ll talk more about why later.

Once I got home I loaded the picture onto my computer. I had to do some touch ups to get a good scan but it worked. And then I waited as my poor little phone browser struggled to load www.purepnw.com. It loaded but it was nearly impossible to tell what I was looking at.

image: Stevens Pass Web on mobile

I tried panning and zooming but the way the site was built neither of those tricks of the mobile browser worked. Of course no mention of a $50 special.

FAIL.

Just to find out what they really wanted me to see I opened the web site on my computer:

A nice desktop experience with videos of the resort, a twitter stream and rotating hi quality pictures in the background. In the center was an embedded YouTube video player. No wonder my phone couldn’t handle it. If ever there was a site not appropriate for mobile this is it.

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What could have saved this campaign?

First, we’ll need to make the assumption that Stevens Pass did more advertising than on the backs and sides of city buses. If so, there may have been a reasonable place to put a QR code. So here’s how we fix it:

1) Remove the QR from the bus. Not only is it unsafe to ask people to scan and drive but there are so many factors introduced that can and do render scanning difficult if not impossible: one or more moving vehicles, window glass, weather, lighting, reflection, camera angle.

2) Build a mobile landing page, if not a complete site, and direct your QR code there.

3) Put information on the site related to the ad. In this case there was no mention of the $50 promotion.

4) Give people a reason to scan. In this case ad copy that might have said, “Scan this to get your $50 voucher,” depending on the nature of the promotion.