qr code #fail of the week: what’s that smell? (updated with author fail info)

EDITOR’S NOTE/UPDATE: Astute commenters have made the point that this is, in fact, not a QR code at all; it’s a CP tracking code. But Hal Thomas makes a great observation that the similarity could easily fool consumers (including this author) into thinking it’s a QR code and generate confusion.

I’m not saying I want to make QR code fails a weekly feature … but I could seriously make QR code fails a weekly feature. This one involves random implementation and poor follow-through — two features that will make adoption of the technology an uphill climb.

While putting on antiperspirant/deodorant the other day (I sweat a  lot), I happened to notice Speed Stick™ had slapped a QR code on the back of the product:

There is absolutely no context to it, other than looking like another pattern next to the much more recognizable Universal Product Code, and no reason any normal would have to scan it. Of course, I’m not a normal person, so I decided to scan it to see if maybe they unhelpfully sent users to their own homepage or something not task-oriented. Oh, but this was even worse …

Are you kidding? That, well, stinks. You put a QR code up and don’t even bother to maintain the page where you’re sending users? Maybe it was a one-time promotional code that expired. Or … well, I guess I’ll never know what it was. I do know that it’s not a very good use of a QR code, and that if for some reason this was my first encounter with this technology (presuming I knew what the heck it was and why I’d want to scan it), I probably wouldn’t have as much interest in scanning anything again.

If you want to hook up with trendy technology, have a goal in mind. And a long-term plan — especially for a product that has a longer shelf-life than your marketing folks’ attention to shiny objects.

9 Comments

Filed under Web

9 responses to “qr code #fail of the week: what’s that smell? (updated with author fail info)

  1. Andy Hedin

    I could be mistaken, but that doesn’t appear to be a QR code. It’s missing the ‘positional’ dots in three corners as seen here:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/QR_code

    Instead, I believe it is a CP Code as seen about half way down on this page:
    http://www.adams1.com/stack.html

    “CP Code is a proprietary code developed by CP Tron, Inc. It is made up of square matrix symbols with an L-shaped peripheral Finder and adjacent timing marks. Visually similar to Data Matrix Code. United States Patent 5343031. See also United States Patent 5128526”

  2. Mike K.

    I believe QR codes on the back of products like this are for internal use and inventory control. I don’t believe this was ever intended to be used by the consumer since the code was equivalent to the SKU shown on the back of the product.

  3. That’s for inventory dude. QR code was originally created by Toyota for vehicle tracking during manufacturing. Speed Stick was doing the same, has nothing to do with marketing.

  4. The confusion on the part of the post’s author is itself an important point. It’s an easy, honest mistake that most consumers (assuming they could even recognize a QR code) could likely also make.

  5. Potentially confusing packaging elements are always a brand problem, not a consumer problem.

  6. @halthomas – I disagree. As a consumer, I don’t blame the brand if I don’t understand what the ingredients are in their product. Would you prefer if the brand printed “Not a QR Code” instead?

  7. Steve

    That is a Datamatrix code, not a QR Code. These have been in use on packaging for years – long before the current interest in QR Code use – for tracking and shipping information. The confusion is caused by all those using QR Codes inappropriately and you should not be railing against a company for doing what they have been doing for a long time, along with many others.

  8. Nathan

    Steve is right it is a DataMatrix code, not a QR code. Also it’s working perfectly – notice the numbers that show up when you scanned it are the same numbers printed below it.

  9. Louetta Boesen

    QR codes are really nice and much more convenient to use.”

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    http://www.healthmedicinelab.com/centipede-bite/

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