Can You Scan These Pants?
By Heidi Tolliver-Walker on December 3rd, 2013
There are a lot of things in Garden & Gun magazine I’ve never seen before, such as recipes for fried rabbit and glorious interior shots of the most incredible Southern architecture imaginable, and last night, I saw my first QR Code in the shape of Bermuda pants.
It’s a really clever idea, thought up by the Bermuda Department of Tourism, to help promote the island destination to a high-end audience.
Of course, the first thing I did was whip out my phone to scan said pants, and to my disappointment, the image didn’t scan. At least at first. QR Codes are designed to be scannable even with up to 30% degradation of the image, which allows codes to be manipulated, branding added, and even turned into a pair of shorts.
Lots of things can disrupt scanning, however. One of them is contrast. This image was in a dark red, which is fine. Not as good as black on white, but usually fine. But the marketer also degraded the image by creating the shape. Consequently, my phone had trouble recognizing the image in the lower light environment of our kitchen. I moved around a little, and on my third try, I found enough light to get it to scan.
That’s great for me (especially if I want to go to Bermuda), but will readers of this publication or any other publication in which it appears know to move to a brighter environment if they can’t scan the code? Or will they simply give up and move on to the next advertisement? Most likely the latter.
If your clients are going to degrade the image for branding or other marketing goals, test, test, test! Don’t just test on different phones. Test different lighting conditions, as well.
Got to give them one thing. At least they didn’t put the QR Code in the gutter of the magazine. But if the ad ad been on a left-hand page, they would have!