Who's ever going to tag this QR code anyway? On AXA Bank's outdoor ad.

Axa puts a qr code on large format print ad on a busy road

Axa puts a qr code on large format print ad on a busy road

During one of my many escapades on the road, I came across the advert above. The ad is to promote a beneficial “renovation loan” and the offer is only valid until the end of 2011. So you’d better renovate your home this year to get the deal, right?

Don’t bother answering the above question. I have different issues with the ad. I believe the ad demonstrates that many marketers still don’t understand technology from a consumer mindset. I also believe that the usage of the QR code in the ad was solely driven on the fact that earlier that year a competitor launched a campaign in which the QR code was given a rather central position. So the ad clearly demonstrates “old-school competitor based marketing”. But let’s start by briefly describing the ad.

Description of the ad

The large format printed advert is clearly divided into two separate yet linked parts.

  • Right frame: the right frame contains the advertising copy and the logo of the company. The copy states “Axa proclaims 2011 as year of renovation”. People should link renovation with renovating a house and a special renovation loaning. So far so good, I managed to get that.
  • Left frame: the left frame is an image. It seems as it depicts the act of tearing down your house’s wallpaper and running into a hidden QR code behind it. I didn’t see wallpaper in the left frame while driving by. But I did notice a big QR code – hence the picture.

Who’s ever going to tag this QR code anyway?

First of all: do most consumers already know about QR codes? Shall they realize it? Or do you only want to address the “geeks” to renovate their house in 2011? I can tell you one thing: geeks are often not that into “DIY stuff”. Maybe you’re addressing the wrong target group with your renovation loan promotions?

Second, assume consumers are completely into QR codes already, how on earth can you tag this code while driving by at 90 km / hour? It’s already hard to take a picture of it. Let alone tag it with your mobile phone.

bnp paribas fortis qr code in advert for mobile banking

bnp paribas fortis qr code in advert for mobile banking

To end I would dare to say that the QR code is there just because they can put it there. Or is it all about parroting the competitor?

Why a QR code? Because BNP Paribas Fortis had one?

I believe AXA bank used QR because their competitor BNP Paribas Fortis did earlier that year. However, how BNP Paribas Fortis deployed it was completely different. BNP used it to launch their mobile banking application and services. And because I believed it was quite impressive, I even reported on their break-through mobile banking app on this blog but I didn’t relate to the way it was promoted. Today I will though.

Promoting online banking with a QR code

Why would it make sense to put a QR code on an advertisement for mobile banking and not on an advertisement for renovation loans?

  • Because a QR code is scanned with a mobile phone.
    People scan the code and they are automatically taken to the mobile banking app. That’s just great, that’s convenience. If you force people to scan a code that has in fact nothing to do with mobile, why would you do the effort? Why would you spend the money?
  • Next to that, BNP’s QR codes were easily scannable.
    You could easily scan them because they were in newspapers, magazines and on in-bank posters. Not on large format. Not next to a speedway.
  • Finally, the target group.
    Yes, early adaptors of mobile banking will probably know a thing or two about QR codes. And no, people who renovate their houses are not particularly interested in geeky stuff.

What CMOs and agencies need to learn from this

  • Don’t just use technology because you can. Make sure it matches your target group.
  • Don’t just do something because your competitor did. The trick is to stand out. Will never happen if you parrot!

Say hello to the Hybrid Marketer.

I think this relates to an interesting debate that was held at SXSW, Austin, Texas, USA. Unfortunately I couldn’t make it to the event and this debate. So if anyone can send me a summary, I’d be very thankful. Anyways, here’s how they framed the whole issue:

How much do marketers (& their agencies) need to know about technology? Advertisers and brand marketers are entering a brave new world — one where code is on par with content. “Consumers” are now “users.” So should “marketers” be “developers”? Enter the hybrid marketer. More and more agencies are finding they need to educate and cultivate a new breed of people who understand tech from a marketing and brand perspective, and who have a consumer mindset. At the same time, agencies are adopting practices–agile development, continuous deployment–learned from the tech world. But should they really try this stuff at home? Should “marketers” be worrying about, say, the video capability of the latest iPhone, or pushing the envelope with HTML5? Or should they just stick to their core competencies and work with established software companies / dev shops to realize their ideas? How else is technology affecting the agency model and the creative process?

Future of print: Large Format Sexy Ads!

Fact: printed matter is going down

Future of print is large format

Future of print is large format

Have a look at the amount of brochures, catalogues and newspapers that are printed today – compared to 10 years ago. Indeed, commercial printed matter decreases year by year. Of course, packaging printing will continue to exist. You can’t deliver without properly packing the good. But you can sell without a printed brochure or catalogue (just put it online as a PDF and it’ll do the trick).

Fact: large format prints add value

In the above I stated that packaging will continue to exist. This will also count for large format print. Large format prints provide additional value compared to commercial prints. Large format prints grab the attention of people. A brochure isn’t read thoroughly anymore – after all, they find the content on the world-wide web.

Suggestion: sexy large format prints

Sexyness has always been a trick to grab people’s attention. Nevertheless, sexyness should be used appropriately. It doesn’t make sense for all products. This page depicts a good example of sexyness within a large format print concept. It depicts a good-looking women next to a big shower head. The copy (Feel Dirty?) enforces the “sexual” aspect as well as it provides appropriate information about the company’s products: they provide solutions to make your body clean…


The future of printed pictures

The future of photography?

The future of photography?

The profession of “photographer” is dead


In today’s digital and mobile world, everyone is a photographer. People are mobile and carry along mobile devices that most of the time can take (high) quality pictures. What’s more, the digital technology allows to take as many pictures as one can imagine. In the end, one will have made at least one picture that has the appearance of a professional photo.

“Everyone a celebrity”

I believe the “end of the photographer” should be understood within the realms of the “15-minutes-of-fame-for-everyone society”. Actually this means it’s not the end of a certain profession. Celebrities still exist. Photographers still exist. The border however to enter those categories is now hazier then ever because of the individual’s empowerment brought along by digital technologies.

Worth a large format print?

Worth a large format print?

Upload & pay online

Back to the pictures. People take pictures everywhere, anytime. Whether with a point&shoot, reflex or a mobile phone. Most of the time those picture are used to post online to a social media profile. Rarely those pictures are printed. The future of printed pictures however is via an online workflow. Upload your own “professional photo”, set the characteristics, pay and … there you go 2 or 3 days later you receive a professionally crafted large format print in your mailbox.

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