Cosmetics Leader uses QR Code

Clinique has recently launched a two-page advertisement in Vogue, which features a prominently displayed QR code but, based on the descriptive copy which accompanies the code, I wonder how effective the ad will be and if it can achieve Clinique's marketing ROI objective.

On the right hand page of the ad, the descriptive text next to the QR code reads, "Use your smart phone to scan this code or visit m.clinique.com/evenbetter for a special offer when you discover Even Better Clinical." While that's all well and good, what Clinique does not tell a reader is that a QR code reader app is needed and where to find one in order to be able to scan the code in the first place. An important step I would say. But the company does the smart thing by providing a URL address so that non-smart phone readers can receive the special offer as well.

Time and again, I see companies taking short cuts when it comes to the descriptive copy that is used along side a 2D code and this will only work to slow consumer adoption and acceptance. If there is real estate in the ad, which there certainly is in this one, then the company should use the space to fully disclose what the code is, how to scan it and where it will resolve to. Additionally, the company should include a URL address, so that non-smart phone consumers can benefit as well. Of course, if the sole purpose of an ad like this is to conduct market research, where copy, code and imagery, etc. was being tested then fine, but I have a feeling this was not that kind of ad.

Lastly, and from a pure marketing perspective, when I went to the website that was advertised, the only special offer that I found was free shipping for a $49.50 bottle of lotion. Unless I was missing something, since when is free shipping on the Internet considered a "special offer"? I believe Clinique could have gone a bit further in their thinking and offered something truly special.


  1. AnonymousJuly 22, 2010

    What's fascinating is the push to target Women with QR codes now.

    Today's news was around Microsoft Tag and an ALLURE MAGAZINE campaign with $725,000 of gifts for women give-away.

    So, will women be the true early-adopters? If Microsoft is banking on them downloading their proprietary Reader, that's a pretty big commitment to get women on-board.

    Or, when it comes to shopping and technology, have males and females reached equality?

  2. Thank you for the comment. I would agree that some sort of equality has been reached, but my question goes to Allure...will Tags become a regular feature in the magazine even after the contest, or is this just a one-time occurrence? Also, why did they decide to use Tags, versus QR or any other.

  3. Kudos to Clinique. I see this time and again however, where an excellent idea is not implemented properly. Thank you for showing me the idea and than you for the honest assessment of the program. Deploying with instructions is not as easy but is very important.

    we recently deployed qr codes at the Xerox Rochester International Jazz Fest and had cards made up to help people know what to do. we also had instructions on the large banner. We had wonderful comments and imagine the power of having the schedule for a 10 day jazz fest at multiple locations -- on your phone.

  4. Deborah, thank you for the comment. Deploying with instructions, as you put it, is a necessary evil for right now and will be until consumers know what these symbols mean and how to access them. That being the case, companies should make it as foolproof as possible for consumers to make use of the codes.