From the ‘real’ world to mobile: What QR codes can do for your brand?

Unicef's QR Code campaign

QR codes are becoming more useful and important in promotional activities, becoming a new channel of communication that accesses information easily, and provides more content for brands to connect with their consumers.

Being an important tool for mobile marketing, the ‘quick response’ technology can bring new opportunities for advertisers, enabling brands to create various modes of interaction with the public, as well as inciting the curiosity of consumers to find out what is hidden behind that code.

The QR code format can handle heaps of data types designed to activate a mobile experience and to communicate with a demographic that has a camera phone, making the smartphone the primary device for every consumer interaction. This technological approach can build rich relationships and engage consumers into a more personal experience with the brand.

Why are digital elements important to experiential marketing strategies?

Technology has never been so important to the communications market as it is today. It is certainly building successful channels of communication within the digital world, turning it into a crucial element within an integrated marketing strategy.

QR codes play a key role in advertising; rather than typing the URL into a phone’s browser, users focus their camera over the code and snap the picture, which instantly directs them to a virtual environment with lots of opportunities to explore.

There’s no question that the technology behind QR codes is impressive, but we particularly love the interactivity that makes it fun and engaging! The interaction involved is a way to generate an emotional appeal to the consumer, with the added value of performing actions during the time when the user is being exposed to such advertising.

From the experiential standpoint, brands can use QR codes to support a particular activity by seeding information and extending the consumer interaction with fascinating content of real value. It connects the real world and online when consumers are out and about!

How brands are using QR codes to make the campaign work harder in the mobile world?

As pioneers on the use of QR codes, Japan has already transformed these ‘digital fingerprints’ into part of everyday life. They are available on everything from advertising, posters and billboards, to business cards, food products, street signs and websites.

The high acceptance of QR codes in the Orient has brought us a brilliant case-study that ended up winning three prizes at Cannes Lions 2011. The Tesco Homeplus subway virtual store in Korea offered commuters the opportunity to buy their groceries out of a virtual display by scanning the QR codes of the products with their smartphones.

There is no doubt that brands have been making good use of QR codes onto their print communication to provide consumers with more content or simply to create an experience that will make them keep the brand at the top of their minds. Here are our top five selection of creative uses of QR codes:

Radisson Edwardian

To enhance the dinner experience at Radisson Edwardian, the hotel chain has included QR codes onto their menus so that customers could scan the code and watch an online video of the chef preparing the featured dish.



Another clever use of QR codes is the Unicef campaign to engage donations in Thailand. By taking a photo of QR code, it instantly opens a written SMS so the user can choose to send the message through and donate money to Unicef’s cause in helping children.

NYC Central Park

Last year, the New York City’s Central Park has launched a campaign called “The World Park”, using QR codes as a key motivator to re-invent the park experience. They wanted to attract and engage visitors by creating an outdoor mobile museum; letting people scan the series of free standing posters placed throughout the park to join an interactive board game related to the visitor’s exact location.


A nice example of the use of QR codes on in-store displays. Diesel wanted to connect with consumers’ social networks and share online content through using Facebook ‘Likes”. It is a good way to connect with consumers online, though as we discussed about adding real value, we would expect Diesel to reward their fans for being such loyal customers.

Calvin Klein

This is a great example of how brands can use QR codes to incite consumer’s curiosity. Calvin Klein Jeans has replaced it’s billboards in New York and Los Angeles with a bright red QR code under the words “Get it Uncensored”. When passers-by snap the picture it directs to an exclusive commercial and viewers could then share it on their social networks.


How can brands integrate QR codes into experiential marketing strategies?

If you decide to use a QR code as part of your integrated marketing strategy it must be innovative and created for a reason. The codes should provide immediate access to relevant content when consumers need it. Therefore, the best way to measure your ROI is to make sure you are adequately rewarding your consumer, by making the effort to provide something really worthwhile.

QR codes are becoming a very useful marketing tool for sales promotion, content sharing, driving traffic to websites and collecting data. Awareness is still growing, but not everyone knows how they can benefit from them, so make sure you are adding a great user experience for those who make the effort to scan it. A sweepstake competition entry or a redeem prize in-store, for instance, can be good ways to connect with your consumer and keep them on track. The message must be clear; you need to make sure your target audience is intrigued and enticed to make them scan the code, creating more engagement with your brand via mobile devices.


Hotcow help brands understand the power of experiential marketing and offers expertise in how to develop, plan and execute campaigns in the right way to get the right results. We are always on the look out for the latest trends.

If you have spotted any great use of QR codes or if you have any additional comments, we would love to hear from you! Tweet us @Hotcow.

For more information or a free consultation, contact us.

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