ING uses QR Code

In the New York Post, ING, the financial services company, launched a new advertisement which features a QR Code. The ad is a two-sided insert and was not printed in the newspaper itself.

From a creative standpoint, the insert is nicely designed and the company does a good job including a call to action in relation to the code (Zoom in on savings.), as well as providing some instructional copy (with the code reader on your smartphone). But I wonder, why are so many companies seemingly afraid to call a QR Code a QR Code? Why not be specific? And, why don't companies make it that much easier for consumers to find and download a QR Code reader app by providing a URL or the name of a specific app? Are they afraid to give the impression that they are playing favorites or giving an endorsement? Has the thought of private labeling a code reader app ever been considered? My hunch is probably not, because as most companies claim to be "experimenting" with codes, chances are they have no idea as to if or when the next 2D campaign will be, so why make the investment in private labeling.

It seems as though ING is giving the reader of the ad two options to make good on the offer and open a savings account. They could either enter the URL and reference code given on the flyer, or they can scan the code. When the reader scans the code, they are linked to a mobile page that asks for an email address. Once the address is submitted, the reader will receive an email from ING that includes a reference code. The reference code is needed to start the process of opening the account and claiming the $25 bonus offer. Other than that, there is really nothing else worth mentioning on the mobile page (i.e., no links to any other pages or content).

In the reply email, I was not really impressed with the "personalized" salutation, which read, "Dear roger@2dbarcodestrategy.com." Is that how we all learned to write a proper salutation? The body of the email gives a short summary about the account that ING is offering, as well as how to claim the $25 bonus, which requires writing down the reference code and going to yet another mobile page where the code is needed in order to proceed. At that point, I stopped chasing the rabbit.

It seems as though it would have been a lot quicker and easier to just enter the not very long or complicated URL and reference code that was provided on the flyer and skip a step or two. So, in essence, how is the code really being used to its greatest advantage in this campaign, other than providing a cool factor? Of course, the company is not going to give away $25 for nothing (i.e., some effort is required), but does this then become an experience/process worth seeing through to the end, let alone sharing with others?

In addition to commenting on this ad from a 2D perspective, I can't help but comment from a pure marketing perspective, as well. In the flyer, there is a graph which depicts the amount that can be earned in an ING savings account versus other types of accounts, and in the disclaimer it is mentioned that comparison interest rates/yields are as of 10/20/10. Are we not five months past that date? Does this really show how up to date the company, a financial services company at that, really is? Or does it show a certain amount of cherry picking? Also, I love the way the company uses the term "high" when describing the 1% interest rate for the savings account that is being offered. Granted interest rates are all historically relative, but seriously, "high"?

On a number of fronts the company does a decent job with this campaign, but I believe the process or experience via the code should never be more involved and/or demanding of the consumer than if the code had never been scanned in the first place.

2D Barcode Litmus Test: FAIL

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