City Harvest uses QR Code

City Harvest, the world's first food rescue organization, recently launched a new advertising campaign, which features a ScanLife generated QR Code. Although a number of non-profits are now using 2D barcodes for fund raising purposes, this is the first non-profit campaign to be reviewed on this blog.

When the QR Code is scanned, the resolve is to a very simplistic mobile website, which offers the reader four menu options to choose from: 1) watch a video, 2) donate on-line, 3) donate by telephone and 4) learn more about City Harvest. Judging from the ScanLife logo at the top of the mobile website, it seems as though they built and possibly host the site for City Harvest.

Let's walk through and review each menu option.

Option 1: The video is about six minutes in length and, each time I tried to watch it, I received a message which said the video could not be viewed. Six minutes is a long time in the mobile space but, even if it wasn't, it does not seem as though this video was optimized for mobile viewing. After watching the video on a laptop, there is a call to action at the end, but it does not bring the viewer to a donate on-line or donate by telephone page. Why not? Why not keep the prospective donor moving down the path?   

Option 2: The donate on-line option is very straightforward. The reader is brought to a secure landing page where he/she can enter personal and credit card information to make a donation.

Option 3: The donate by telephone option is also very straightforward. The reader is brought to a page that lists a telephone number and under the number is a "Call Now" button that can be pressed and the number is automatically dialed.

Option 4: When selected, the learn more about City Harvest option brings the reader to a landing page, which provides additional information about the City Harvest organization. From this page, the reader can volunteer or make a donation. This landing page is not part of the mobile website, but the regular one. Viewing the page is not difficult, but if City Harvest already went to the trouble of developing a mobile site, why not make one more mobile page to hold this content?

I believe there could have been a fifth option on the mobile site, a volunteer option. Here the reader would be able to learn about and sign up to become a volunteer. Overall, however, the mobile site works well and makes it easy for individuals to learn more about the organization's history and mission, as well as to make a donation.

The campaign is currently running in magazines, phone kiosks and transit shelters, and on Facebook, which is good to see, as so few companies actually integrate 2D across channels/mediums. With respect to the magazine advertisement that I saw a copy of, the description and instructions next to the QR Code were a little vague ("Snap the code with your camera phone, or go to www.getscanlife.com"). If I am the reader of the advertisement, why would I have to go to "getscanlife.com"...who or what is that? And, what if I tried to snap the code with my feature phone camera? 

Overall, the campaign is well thought out and certainly tries to enhance the reader's experience by making it easy to donate and or learn more about the organization.

2D Barcode Litmus Test: PASS


  1. I've seen a lot of scanlife campaigns have issues. They're certainly the dominant player in that space right now, but the majority of their campaigns have had issues like you've pointed out. It's a great start, but I think there is a lot more potential. We're working on a tool now that marketers can use that will hopefully address those issues and make it easier to make compelling QR Code campaigns.

  2. Kevin: Thank you for the comment. Whether the majority of ScanLife campaigns have issues or not, these are not ScanLife's campaigns in the sense that ScanLife is only the provider/generator of the codes, they are not the company/brand behind the actual campaign. Ultimately, I hold the brand responsible for a well staged, well executed campaign, or the lack thereof. Not the code provider/generator or even the creative agency. Yes, these entities certainly play a role, but the brand, in my mind, has the final say and sign-off. Thus, ultimate responsibility.