Surf's Up with ScanLife QR Code

Vans, the shoemaker, is running a two-page advertisement, which features a ScanLife generated QR code. Scan the code and a reader will be able to view an exclusive video of world class surfer Nathan Fletcher.

Vans QR Code

The ad provides basic information about scanning the code with a smartphone and downloading the ScanLife reader app. For some reason, I have an easy time believing that Vans' target audience knows full well how to scan a 2D code and where to locate and download a reader app. It's anyone else outside of this target demo that may not know the first thing about 2D codes, and why a little more descriptive copy may help. Also, does Vans purposely wish to segment between those who have a smartphone and those who don't, because there is no way a non-smartphone consumer can access the exclusive video. No URL address is given.

The video offered to those who scan the code is not what I would have expected from a company like Vans, it's not radical enough, but then I do not know the company's motive or objective for making use of a 2D code in the first place. Rather, I would have liked to have seen the company offer a chance to win a custom-made surfboard, or a Nathan Fletcher autographed board, or a trip to a professional surf contest, or a couple of hundred dollars worth of Vans merchandise. To me, this is how the customer experience can be enhanced, buzz can be created and engagement between prospective or existing customer and company can be established.

Overall, it seems as though very little creative effort went into this ad, especially as it pertains to the 2D code (i.e., the code resolve and the code's call to action). It does not appear as though using 2D drove the creative for this advertisement, instead it looks more like an after thought...once again.


  1. I agree this is a perfect example of how to poorly apply a new technology in advertising. Although, having Nathan Fletcher as an endorsement on video is not a bad idea but there is nothing in return for the consumer. I agree, the idea of a contest in conjunction with a Nathan Fletcher give away would have been the linking component to a more encaging consumer experience. Van's could have also used the mobile technologies more effectively by collecting the consumer data and storing the information as contacts for any future promotions.

  2. Pat: Thank you for your comment. Agreed. No real value offered to a prospect or existing customer. What Van's looks to do with the data obtained from the campaign is anyone's guess.

  3. Another day, another QR to Video.

    I can just hear some Account Exec pitching this to the client as the "most awesome thing." And, then, this. . .

    The only point I'd make is that the target demographic (male 15-25) may be digitally savvy in some respects -- and, can figure things out on their own -- they aren't a demographic who've had a lot of exposure to QR or 2D tags. If you collect 10 random Teens, my guess is that none of those 10 have ever scanned a tag.

    A few more campaigns like this, and a whole generation will grow up thinking that Tags are not-so-awesome and not worth the time and effort.

  4. Anonymous: Points well taken, but I have noticed a number of 2D ads in magazines similar to Surfer or Surfing (cannot recall which one had this Vans ad), so the demographic would be much the same. Some on the ground research may interesting and gives me an idea for a article post.

  5. Transworld Surf Magazine is packed full of 2D codes. Some better thought out than others. I agree that it would be nice to see campaigns designed with the 2D barcode elements cohesively integrated, rather than just cool afterthoughts. As a designer, I would never just tack something on at the end, which is what is happening with the 2d codes in a lot of cases. There have been effective and innovative uses of QR codes in the surf industry, or it's peripherals at any rate. Did you see this article on the OCF's use of QR codes at the US Open of Surfing? Thanks again for the great blog.
    Beach Bodies and QR Codes

  6. Katrina: Thank you for the comments and compliment.