The latest advertiser to use a QR code is John Lewis, who have today added a QR code to their Christmas shopping newspaper ad in Metro. The John Lewis ad explains what the QR code is ('scan this code with your smartphone to go to our mobile site') and the small print at the bottom of the page states 'QR code readers can be downloaded online. Data charges may apply.
John Lewis are not the first advertiser to use QR codes on their 'offline' presence. Fendi used a QR code on their newspaper ad in the Times last year, Lacoste are currently running QR codes in their store windows and most recently Tesco have used QR codes on their poster advertising for Call Of Duty: Black Ops (interestingly they linked to a bit.ly URL and allowed the click data from the code to be publicly available.)
The QR code sends mobile users straight to the desired mobile web page, this could be anything, but in this example John Lewis are sending people to their mobile store. Creative therefore accounts for both the passive and active audiences. The passive audience take all they need to know from the ad itself (Low Involvement John Lewis=Christmas), whereas the active audience are encouraged to either go to the online store or go straight from the ad to the mobile web. In the same way that TV ads are being tagged with 'Search For......' or 'Friend us / Follow Us / Visit Us at Facebook / Twitter / YouTube', the presence of a QR code allows 'traditional' advertising to act as a gateway to a wider digital world.
QR codes were hyped, then seemed to fall off the radar a bit, but now seem to be coming back into fashion through the ever increasing level of smart phone usage and the ubiquity of bar code reading software ('Barcode Scanner', 'Google Goggles' etc.)
John Lewis Christmas TV ad - featuring 'Your Song' by Ellie Goulding [Video]
Fendi QR code national press ad
QR codes hitting the mainstream - Pepsi, CSI and more
QR code Twitter book
QR code vending machines
QR code short story competition
QR codes - how they work