Some New Twists on QR Code Placement

A couple of novel uses for QR Codes have come to light in the past few days. “Novel” doesn’t necessarily mean “effective” however. These three examples do provide some lessons for marketers from head scratchers to cutting edge.

Image via

1. The “Are They Serious?” Placement

Robin of the McLellan Marketing Group found the post about PR company that will put a giant QR Code on your office’s roof. The idea is to the QR Code embedded into the satellite photos used by Google Maps and Google Earth. The firm, Phillips and Company markets this as their “Blue Marble” service, which starts at $8,500. The use context is, I guess, that people would be looking at satellite images on their PC, see a QR Code on a building and whip out their mobile phone to scan the code. This assumes, of course, that Google doesn’t write some code to delete these images from the photos – just like they delete images of auto license plates from Google Street View.

Image via The New York Times

2. The “Not Thinking It All the Way Through” Placement

The New York Times ran an articleabout new uses of QR Codes and one examples was for the lifestyle retailer Ralph Lauren. To better have the code represent the brand, Ralph Lauren embedded the ubiquitous polo player and changed the code color to blue. This made for a more pleasing visual presentation. The not thinking it all the way through comes when you scan the code. The landing page is mobile optimized, but anything else – like the product catalogs – revert to the nearly unreadable desktop format.


Image via The New York Times

3. The “Now That’s Interesting” Placement

The most interesting report and the main topic of the aforementioned NYT article was Home Shopping Network’s use of QR Codes as part of their TV broadcast. By displaying the QR Code when a particular piece of merchandise was shown, HSN was trying to provide a simple way for viewers to use their smartphones to get more information about the item and to potentially make a purchase via their smartphone. And indeed, when one scans the code, a mobile-optimized website is presented with product information and purchasing options. While it’s an open question as to how much of the HSN audience will use this feature, they have thought the process through and deliver a user experience appropriate for the smartphone.