QR Codes in the Mail, Part I

Posted by: Nicholas M. Roberts

My girlfriend Kim loves coupons. The only reason we still get the Sunday paper every week is for the fliers, and she is subscribed to getting circulars from just about every grocery store in the area. She has informed me that in the past few months QR codes have taken over her fliers and coupon books. Knowing my interest in QR codes, she saved me a bunch! I have scanned them for you to see what companies use QR codes for when they send them through the mail. I’ve given each one my own personal “thumbs-up” or “thumbs-down” rating as well.

Exhibit A: Woolite Detergent. This was printed on their ad next to a coupon for a dollar off any Woolite Detergent. Scanning the code will bring you to a video of their newest TV ad. In this instance the ad itself seems more beneficial than the code – and they even tell you that scanning the code is only another way for them to market to you. The video offers no new information, so I’m going to give this one a thumbs-down.

Exhibit B: Ninety-Nine Restaurants. Printed on an ad for the eatery, scanning this code will sign you up for Ninety-Nine’s E-Club and will earn you a coupon for a free appetizer. Free food is always a plus. Thumbs-up!

Exhibit C: Scotch Fur Fighter. Instead of a QR code, Scotch chose to use an MS Tag. Scanning the MS Tag will bring you to a video where you can “see the pet hair sweeper in action.” As I don’t have a Windows Phone to scan it with, I can only assume that video is a commercial like in Exhibit A. Therefore, thumbs-down.

Exhibit D: This was on an ad for Once Upon a Time, a show on ABC. As the ad is just a big picture of the Evil Queen character, readers will indefinitely be looking for more information – which the QR code brings you to. Since the code serves a useful purpose, I give it a thumbs-up!

Exhibit E: Ultimate Flora probiotics. The ad focuses on how Ultimate Flora compares to its competition. The code leads you to a website where you can compare more information than is just on the chart. Even with the coupon I wouldn’t be horribly convinced to buy the supplements, but the information is relevant and might be more effective on someone who is interested in improving their digestive health. I’ll offer a thumbs-up.

Exhibit F: A Walmart advertisement for Nestle Coffee Mate: Natural Bliss. This does indeed send you to a site with more information. My favorite part is the recipes. Thumbs-up!

Exhibit G: Alpo. Cute animals are great marketing, but when you’re selling pet products, their appearance is pretty much standard. You might be able to sell Coca Cola with an animated polar bear, but every dog food commercial is going to have dogs in it. The code sends you to a “Real Dog” video that teaches you nothing about the product or why dogs will love it. Having scanned this, I feel like I’ve watched an entertaining commercial, but I have no reason to switch over to buying Alpo for my pet. Thumbs-down.

Exhibit H: Ducolax. It was pretty smart not to have the code lead to more information about the laxative product itself. Instead, Ducolax has chosen to link to a page that stresses the importance of getting a colon cancer screening. Not only is this information relevant, but it conveys that the company cares about your health and wellness, not just selling you its products. Thumbs-up!

Exhibit I: Up 2 U Gum. The article shows you all of the product boxes and flavors, why would I need more information? In addition to this unnecessary information there is a contest where you get to vote for someone you think deserves to win $5000. Unfortunately the contest was long over despite my flier being quite recent – a huge misstep in QR marketing. There is no redeeming factor about this QR code. Thumbs-down!

Exhibit J: Medicare. Medicare is a complex program that a single-page ad couldn’t even begin to explain. While your wait for your next Medicare handbook to arrive in the mail, you can scan the QR code on this advertisement for information Medicare and health care law. I give it a thumbs-up.

To be continued…