Valpak uses SPARQ.ME QR Code

Valpak, one of the leading direct marketing companies in North America, is teaming up with SPARQ.ME (formerly SPARQCode) to launch a new direct mail package on behalf of two of its partners, TNT and HGTV.

Valpak wanted to deliver greater value for these two companies above and beyond a simple print advertisement, and thought QR Codes would be a new and different way to 1) engage with consumers via their mobile device and 2) make the engagement that much more sticky in the hope that it boosts show ratings for these networks.

Through July and August, over 80 million U.S. households will receive a Valpak envelope with a SPARQ.ME generated QR Code, and I would venture to guess that this might be the largest potential audience in the U.S. to see a single QR Code-based campaign. Once the code is scanned, consumers will be brought to a mobile website that is tethered to social media, TV show alerts/reminders, mailing list opt-ins and other call-to-actions.

While it is too early to tell how successful this campaign may or may not be, there are a couple of items that I would like to briefly mention. First, this campaign illustrates how 2D can be used for more than just magazine and/or out-of-home advertising. There's plenty of ways to incorporate 2D into direct mail. Second, the term "sticky" used above is not mine, it actually comes from a brief I was given by SPARQ.ME. Never before have I used the term sticky or seen it used by others to describe a 2D-based campaign, but it is very apropos. With other types of digital and even traditional marketing, how often do we, as marketers, talk about making a site, page or content sticky, so that a consumer interaction and engagement can be that much longer, more meaningful and hopefully of greater value to the company, as well as to the consumer? The idea that 2D helps make a campaign sticky is great, however, as with everything else, that stickiness needs to be built on content and/or an experience worthy of keeping the consumer engaged. So, as it has been written plenty of times before on this blog, the 2D/mobile/interactive experience that is wrapped around a campaign or advertisement needs to be spot on from square one.

It will be interesting to see if and how Valpak will continue to make use of 2D technology. Stay tuned.


  1. AnonymousJuly 05, 2011

    At first glance this seems very well thought out.

    Upon second glance I have to wonder about the demographic and user habits that occur when smart phones and junk mail collide?

  2. Hi Roger. Another QR code getting massive exposure is the ad currently rotating on the home page of Amazon.com for the IMDB Android app. You may need to reload the page a couple of times to see it, but considering that Amazon gets over 100MM unique visitors a month, this is prime time visibility.

  3. Larry: Thank you for the information. I'll take a look.

  4. Anonymous: Thank you for the comment. One man's junk is another man's treasure, so we'll just have to wait and see what the results are.

  5. AnonymousJuly 05, 2011

    Roger - I guess the question is, if you were advising a similar client, would you feel that QR codes on "junk" mail are a fit with early adopter QR scanners w/smartphones?

    It seems like very different demographics? Not to be a snob, but, I could generalize and say current Android and iPhone owners recycle without opening. While feature phone users may be more open to print materials with discounts.

    Does the saturation bombing approach of junk mailers suit the targeting of QR campaigns where mobile, location and context is supposed to reap rewards? Best practices includes these variables, right?

    July and August as an optimal time to try this? Vacation time when we put mail on hold and then sift through it in bulk to pull bills and recycle everything else?

    This doesn't seem to have much going for it. But, perhaps we'll all be surprised.

  6. Anonymous: I agree. With this, or any other 2D-based campaign, consideration must be given to the multiple and various demographics that are to be targeted.

  7. AnonymousJuly 06, 2011

    Re: about July and August timeframe - USPS is having a summer sale, 3% discount on postage for mail with QR code on it.

  8. AnonymousJuly 11, 2011

    From the above responses, it seems that there is a lot of mis-information about who receives and uses Valpak and why. Higher demographics have repeatedly been the highest consumers of coupons. Those with more disposible income and are looking to save money while spending money thats the Valpak audience. Techno savvy, absolutely. I would expect a very warm response to this launch. Also, to the naked eye Valpak looks like mass national marketing, not so, each area, drilled down to 10,000 can have a different envelope, very targeted. Like any reputable marketing firm, Valpak uses PRIZM data to help support large and small business reach their target audience. Even snobs want to save money, maybe more than non-snobs.