CEC Wheels, a purveyor of luxury automotive accessories, customizing and tuning, has launched a new print campaign, which features a Data Matrix barcode. The code in the advertisement was generated by a California-based digital marketing firm called The Bar Pages.
One of the first things that I notice about the ad is the red banner at the top, which announces to the reader that this is an interactive advertisement. And, if that were not enough, next to the barcode there is copy which reads, "Bring this ad to life." Between these two messages, the reader will certainly know that there is more to this ad than what appears on the printed page.
With respect to the Data Matrix code itself, it is placed in what The Bar Pages refers to as a Cube TAG. The Bar Pages originated the Cube TAG as a mechanism to showcase a 2D code and, on each side of the cube, there is additional information about the code. In this particular case, the top of the cube holds a CEC logo, the left side has a mobile phone image and the front has copy which indicates the type of code being shown, that the code is powered by The Bar Pages and an expiration date of the code. All told, this information helps reinforce the underlying message (scan the code), but in actuality, is the CEC logo so noticeable, is there a real need for an expiration date if there is no time sensitive offer being made or content to be delivered and to say that the code is powered by a third party does that just make things more confusing? What starts out seeming like an interesting way to display a code, I wonder how beneficial it really is.
When the code is scanned, the reader is taken to a mobile website. On the mobile website, the reader is given a number of menu options. Most of the menu options link to another mobile page, but the 2011 CEC Wheels link goes to a product page on the company's regular website. Not an ideal way to present product on a mobile device, but this page seems to work fine. With respect to the 1:30 You Tube video that is part of the mobile website, it is essentially a commercial for the company and offers no real value to the reader, which brings me to some of the less than positive aspects of the ad.
There are three major flaws in the ad. First, there is no call to action. Second, there is no offer or promotional incentive, especially for the reader who scans the code. Third, there is nothing of real value being delivered through the advertisement, or the scan resolve itself. Without these three features, especially the last, all this ad really amounts to is self-promotion and pure interruption. What's really in it for the reader? What do they gain? What will they want to share with friends or family? How has this engagement or interaction really enhanced a prospective customer's experience with the company? Answer these questions and the ad will be much better positioned to drive (no pun intended) results.
2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL