More than promos
Promotions have historically been the major destination for QR code marketing. Coinbase’s ad in last year’s Super Bowl linked to a sign-up page on its website that offered $15 in free bitcoin upon registration. Similarly, StockX’s QR code in Rocket Mortgage’s 2022 spot linked to various sweepstakes. One of StockX's co-founders is Dan Gilbert, who is also the founder and chairman of Rocket Mortgage.
As barcodes have become a more familiar part of consumers’ lives, however, brands are realizing they need to create more engaging experiences on the other side of QRs. Expect variations from contests to games to exclusive access to media, said VaynerMedia’s Miaritis.
Michelob Ultra’s tie-up with Netflix offers an early viewing of the first episode of “Full Swing”—24 hours before the documentary series officially launches on the streaming platform. The reason the brewer decided to use a QR code as the method of gateway is its embodiment as a “call to action,” said Ricardo Marques, VP of marketing at Michelob Ultra. In other words, viewers almost unconsciously know what to do when they see a QR’s distinct patterns: scan.
Viewers who scan the QR code in the ad from Limit Break, the Web3 gaming company, will have the chance to acquire a free NFT. Limit Break is releasing the batch of tokens ahead of the launch of its new blockchain-based game, DigiDaigaku. Each token can ultimately be used to enhance the gameplay experience.
Online gambling company FanDuel, which will air a live Super Bowl commercial, is using QR codes outside of the in-game ad to provide education on responsible gaming. An activation called “RG for RG” will hinge on trading cards of brand spokesperson Rob Gronkowski, which will feature a QR code that will drive people to FanDuel’s landing page on responsible gaming. The brand will hand out the trading cards at the Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, as well as in other cities in Arizona.
Hellmann’s is incorporating QR tech to drive consumers to shoppable recipes revolving around its products. The codes will appear on-screen for those watching on Paramount+ and link to e-commerce service MikMak. Hellmann’s will also include QRs linking to shoppable recipes on Amazon over-the-top and in-store displays.
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Lessons from Coinbase
The success of Coinbase’s 2022 spot showed that QR technology, when used properly, can captivate audiences. A year later, brands are also focusing on innovative ways to get their QRs in front of audiences’ eyeballs.
FanDuel’s effort blends old-school marketing with new-school marketing, said Adam Warrington, the company’s VP of responsible gaming. The trading card aspect is a mechanism to entice sports fans into engaging with the QR code. A QR code by itself, conversely, would attract no one.
For brands putting QR codes into their in-game spots, Coinbase’s ad showed that highlighting a QR code as an essential component of the ad, as opposed to a fleeting appearance, may be a better use of the technology, said Vayner’s Miaritis.
“I hope we don’t make it that thing at the end for three seconds,” he said, adding that, from an engagement standpoint, there is only upside to extending the length and experience of your ad, which is what a QR enables. VaynerMedia is the agency behind Planters’ Super Bowl 2023 ad, though Miaritis declined to divulge whether the spot will contain a QR.
Michelob Ultra is still choosing to air its QR at the end of the commercial, but this is not due to a lack of considering otherwise. Instead, the brewer decided it needed to provide context for why people should scan before offering them the scanning mechanism, said Marques. A voiceover will also be used to help to guide viewers’ attention to the code, which will last on screen for around five seconds—sufficient time for most viewers to scan, according to Marques.
Above all, the experience should aim to be simple and convenient for millions of people, which are the real boons that QR tech lends to brands in the Super Bowl, said Marques. And a chance to break the internet doesn’t hurt either.