The latest edition of Magazine X, a nationally distributed and well-known publication with a 200 plus page count, recently hit the newsstands with four Microsoft Tags featured throughout. Three of the four Tags seem to be placed by the magazine's publisher and the fourth seems to be placed by a major advertiser in the magazine.
When the Tags are scanned, the reader of the magazine is brought to one of two different sets of content. The first set of content consists of a mobile web page that offers a mobile optimized video (i.e., not a YouTube video) and the opportunity to download a free mobile app. The second set of content consists of a picture gallery with mobile optimized videos, mobile optimized product commercials, a reader vote and the same free mobile app. (Note about the mobile app, even though the publication advertises and a corporate press release announces that the app will work on Android phones, the reality is that, at present, the app only works on iPhones.) It is also worth mentioning that, throughout the campaign, there is the ability for the reader of the publication to share content via social networks.
While this campaign has a lot going for it with respect to creativity, content and execution, the one question I have is, where's the real value being delivered? What's going to motivate the reader to keep reading/buying the publication past this edition? Nothing, as far as I can tell. So, what's the publisher's real objective here and how does the reader benefit?
In the past, we have witnessed/experienced 2D campaigns that offer combinations of great creative, great execution and great value to the consumer, and those campaigns that offer much less. In relation to this specific 2D campaign, I am more of the mind that "much less" was delivered, which causes me to fail the campaign on the litmus test. Would you draw the same conclusion? How about if I told you that Magazine X was really the 2011 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue? What then?
My belief is that a fair number of people are going to say I'm crazy or out of touch for failing this campaign, even though the popularity of the magazine is going to propel the awareness, acceptance, comfort and use of 2D codes among individuals, as well as companies. While all that might be true, and certainly fantastic for the 2D industry at large, a campaign is a campaign and my take on it is simply different than most, because I am trying to look at it and react to it from a pure strategic marketing perspective, not from a "group of models dressed in bikinis sitting on the beach" perspective.
And, speaking of marketing strategy, up until now JAGTAG had supplied codes to the Swimsuit Issue, so I wonder if anything can be inferred by this move to Tag.
Let the debate begin.
2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL