7.21.2012

DHL's QR Code Fails to Deliver

DHL may be expert at delivering packages around the globe, but the company is anything but that when it comes to delivering a meaningful and worthwhile QR Code (brand and service) experience. Let's take a closer look.


DHL ran this print advertisement in the recent issue of Bloomberg Businessweek and, when the reader of the advertisement scans the QR Code, they are brought to a "mobile web site." On the mobile web site is a 59-second video and three buttons, each of which reads "Recommend this site," "dhl.com" and "Deutsche Post DHL (Legal)."

First, the video. The video is not optimized for mobile and, more than that, it has relatively very little meaning and/or value to the viewer. The video does not discuss what the company does, how it may beat the competition or what the latest product/service offering may be. While there is text on the screen, it's so small it's nearly impossible to read. Strike one.

Second, the "Recommend this site" button. Question, why would the reader recommend the site? There is no site to recommend or, I should say, there is no content, or even an experience, worthy of a recommendation. Great that the company asks for a recommendation, as few do, but this is not the place do so. Strike two.

Third, the "dhl.com" button. Why should the reader of the advertisement have to divert to the desktop version of the company's website to see additional content and make use of additional functionality? If the mobile site was built out correctly, there should be no reason to fall back on the desktop version of the site. Strike three.

Fourth, the 'Deutsche Post DHL (Legal)" button. There's nothing more alluring than legal copy. If it is a matter of disclosure, etc., fine, include the copy, but this need not be so front and center. Strike four.

When all is said and done, the reader of this advertisement has been given zero incentive to move further down the purchase decision path. What can the company possibly stand by running an advertisement like this? Or, I could ask, what can the company possibly stand by including a QR Code in an advertisement like this? Nothing, that's what.  And it's a shame, because all an advertisement like this does is leave a reader with a bad taste in their mouth when it comes to scanning bar codes in the future.

Why not, via the QR Code, give consumers all of the tools and information they need, on a mobile optimized site, to make use of DHL's delivery services. For example, what about tracking a shipment, calculating shipping costs, the country's served by DHL, the various delivery services offered, where to find a local DHL office, etc., etc. Is it just me, or did DHL's marketing/creative/mobile team just phone this one in? My hunch, the latter.

While there are other QR Code related missteps with the campaign, I believe I have given DHL enough to think over and will leave it at that.

2D Bar Code Litmus Test: FAIL

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