The best and worst uses of coupon QR codes

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Below are nine coupon circulars that contain QR codes evaluated and ranked based on the following four categories: appearance, incentive to scan, where the code leads, and overall execution.

These evaluations have been critiqued according to criteria found in the video "QR Codes: The 5 Most Important Things to Make Your QR Code A Success" by Bob Bentz, CEO of Advanced Telecom Services. According to the video, these five elements will guarantee a great QR code campaign:

  • Tell the consumer what she will get if they scan the code
  • Assume this is the consumer's first time scanning (this is no longer as important as it used to be)
  • Include a text message call-to-action as well as a keyword to text (to a short code) in case the consumer does not have a smartphone: Text message marketing allows you to reach 82 percent of consumers
  • If you are directing the consumer to your website, make sure it is mobile friendly
  • Custom QR codes are scanned 2.3 times more than regular black and white ones

Kool-Aid/Crystal Light/Country Time/Rubbermaid

Appearance: 5
Although this QR code is decently sized, it is very plain in black and white.

Incentive to scan: 9
By offering consumers a sweepstakes to enter by scanning, they are well informed of where the code is going to take them and what they will receive from scanning. Also, patrons are going to be more likely to scan the code knowing they have a chance to win a $2,500 prize.

Where the code leads: 10
After scanning the code, you are led to an easy-to-use mobile-friendly website that allows you to sign up for the sweepstakes. The form is very simple to fill out and submit.

Overall execution: 8
Overall, the company relied too heavily on the sweepstakes for incentive to scan its code. It should have included a more interesting QR code to inspire consumers to scan rather than just a plain black and white one. Besides this flaw, the overall execution was very well done.


Appearance: 8
As mentioned above, custom QR codes are scanned 2.3 times more than regular QR codes. In this Energizer ad, the QR code is not exactly customized, but it is colorful. The color is way more appealing to, and the code is also a decent size, making it easy to scan and see.

Incentive to scan: 6
Under the QR code it reads, "Scan here to learn more!" That really does not tell me much about what I am going to see if I scan the code, but that statement is better to include than nothing at all. Similarly, there probably aren't very many people in the world dying to learn more about batteries. Instead, the company could have included a contest or sweepstakes to encourage consumers to scan the QR code.

Where the code leads: 7
Although learning more about batteries may not be the most interesting thing to most people, the QR code leads patrons to a mobile-friendly browser. The browser includes many entertaining items like a video, product reviews, and other available products.

Overall execution: 7
The QR code is appealing to the eye and consumers will be attracted to its color. In contrast, customers may not be thrilled to learn more about batteries. The code leads you to something exciting like a video, but everything else presented is somewhat mundane.


Appearance: 6
Although the company presents a plain black and white code, it is able to spice it up with the spotlight-like background as well as the fun lettering below it.

Incentive to scan: 6
The company invites you to "Join the Sir Can-A-Lot Crusade" by scanning the code or visiting its website. Most people probably are not familiar with the "Sir Can-A-Lot Crusade," so this may not be the best tactic to use without explanation.

Where the code leads: 8
After scanning the code and wondering what this crusade is all about, you are brought to a video of Sir Can-A-Lot. He personally invites all viewers to join him in his crusade. This is a very entertaining tactic to use to engage customers.

Overall execution: 7
Overall the execution of this QR code was a little above average. If the company could have provided its readers with a little blurb about what the crusade entailed, the QR code would be more effective. Additionally, if the QR code was customized or even colored, it would feature a more successful campaign.



Ben Acheson
Ben Acheson September 13, 2012 at 12:02 PM

QR Codes are not engaging. They're impersonal and techie. The next generation is already here in the shape of URLs embedded invisibly within images. Images can be quite compelling in their own right and people are much more likely to respond to them.