Here’s one unassailable benefit of AI—it can make QR codes look prettier.
The humble and usually homely digital code gets a marked upgrade in Coca-Cola’s new campaign, which uses AI to generate artful images that still work when scanned. A creative technologist and artist named Troy Ni began experimenting with QR code art this summer, using Stable Diffusion and ControlNet, and posted the results to Reddit. So, Coke reached out to him and commissioned the branded ones.
There are five codes in all, which began appearing on out-of-home displays at movie theaters, stadiums and theme parks across the U.S. beginning this month.
The codes link to Coke’s music video for “Be Who You Are (Real Magic),” which rolled out earlier this summer. The track was written by Grammy winner Jon Batiste and features artists NewJeans, JID, Camilo and Cat Burns. Coke commissioned the song and video to kick off season 2 of Coke Studio, its global music platform supporting emerging musicians.
Each QR code is connected to one of the five artists in the video. The image above references Batiste. See the other four below.
The QR codes were developed in partnership with WPP’s Open X.
The effort extends Coke’s recent experiments in AI, of which there have been many. In March, the company launched a website where people can create digital art using AI tools and Coke icons. In August, it held an event called the Real Magic Creative Academy, which involved creators making create Coke-related art using DALL-E and GPT-4.
Separately, the Coke Studio work also extends Jon Batiste’s connections to the brand and agency world. Batiste worked with two Stagwell agencies, Doner and Wolfgang, to create rich visual imagery around his new album, “World Music Radio.” He told Ad Age that partners such as Coke can be fruitful collaborators as well.
“It’s amazing if you can get brands to collaborate with artists so it feels like what the artist would be doing anyway, except enhanced and lifted onto a higher platform with a bigger megaphone,” he said. “It often requires some intermediary representative for the artist who speaks ‘ad speak.’ But if you can figure that out, to me it’s one of the best ways of storytelling in the modern age.”
Check out the “Be Who You Are (Real Magic)” music video below.