QR needs higher marketing IQ.

I was on a bus to New Jersey recently and as we exited the Lincoln Tunnel I noticed a highway billboard that could really only be seen from the highway with a QR code on it. Take a moment and think how absurd that is. You are barreling out of Manhattan at 40 miles an hour about to negotiate a corkscrew turn in heavy traffic and somehow you’re supposed to take out your phone, launch your QR code app and snap a picture in less than a second?

I see QR codes on subway posters. Ummm, no data connection underground, remember?

I see QR codes on bus ads. Not inside the bus, but on the outside of the bus. That’s fine if the bus is pulled up to the curb, stopped and picking up passengers and the ad is on the right (curb) side of the bus, but no campaign should contain so many “ifs”.

This is typical “we should do it because everyone is doing it” marketing mentality that is really quite shameful. As marketers we’re limited by budgets, sure, but we shouldn’t be limited by creativity and thoughtfulness. Because not only is the placement of these QR codes utterly worthless, most of them link to the company .com homepage which is not optimized for mobile devices. I don’t know about you, but I am not pinching to resize a site on my iPhone for minutes on end to get a marketing message.

I passed a window treatment for real estate listings a while back and one of the listings caught my eye. It had a QR code and I thought this would be a good use of QR codes if done properly. You could really make an apartment or townhouse come alive with video or virtual tours. The first listing’s QR code I tried brought up a page not found error. The next listing’s QR code linked to the real estate company’s home page which was not optimized for mobile devices. The third did link to the property listing page but it again was not optimized for mobile and it contained no additional information than the 8×10 glossy card display in the window. Pointless, completely pointless. Well, it did achieve one goal: it frustrated the bejeezus out of a potential customer.