South Korea’s Emart Uses Shadow QR Codes to Boost Lunchtime Sales

Emart Sunny Sales Shadow QR CodeThe much maligned QR code gets a boost of creativity thanks to an initiative by South Korea chain store Emart.

The stores were suffering low sales over the lunchtime hour. To solve this issue they created a three dimensional display that revealed a shadow-based QR code only during the hour of 12 to 1pm when the sun hit at just the right angle. When scanned the users were directed to the eMart ‘Sunny Sales’ mobile site where they could take advantage of special offers including a $12 off coupon, redeemable in-store or on the mobile site. The site orders would be delivered the next day to the buyer’s home.

The campaign proved to so successful that the program was expanded from 13 to 36 locations. 12,000 coupons were issued, there was a 58% increase in eMart membership, and most importantly a 25% increase in sales of eMart mall during lunch hours.

The agency behind Emart’s ‘Sunny Sales’ shadow QR-code is Cheil Worldwide, who last year had produced the Tesco subway virtual store.

South Korea

Clever Ad Concept Uses Customized QR Codes to Connect to Mobile Users to App Store

QR Code Ad Concepts

This series of ad concepts created by UK digital agency Stupid showcase just how creative you can be when using a QR code in an ad or poster. The QR code itself is constructed of of elements from Angry Birds and Instagram in these examples.

When developing a campaign using QR Code (especially a creative solution such as these) you must remember the following;

  • Maintain a contrast between the darker and light areas of the QR Code so that it can still be easily read
  • Know your environment. Is it well lit? How far will your user be from the creative? Knowing this will help you understand what the ideal size is for your QR code.
  • Test with multiple apps on different mobile devices

Remember that the QR code itself is simply a trigger to activate a mobile experience. Whether it’s RFID, NFC, SMS or your user is tapping in a URL your destination should be optimized for mobile users. I know it seems logical, but everyday I find QR codes that drive unfortunate users to traditional web pages where a user is forced to scroll their way around.

These concepts are great examples of using QR codes to complete a simple end-to-end mobile experience.

Via Ad Goodness

Related Posts

Randy MathesonI am a Nova Scotia raised Creative Guy, currently Director of Emerging Media at Delvinia, a Digital Strategy & Customer Experience Design Firm in Toronto. I’m a huge fan of the creative use of digital technologies in social media, marketing, sports and entertainment. I use this blog to share the more interesting examples that I find. If you’re in need of a break, join me over at for a cocktail.

Music Video Features Dozens of QR Codes

Director DuNo Tran has gone QR code crazy, inserting a pile of them into the music video for Shin-B‘s latest song ‘Get Up and Go’. Once the video received 10,000 views (which it just did), the QR codes will link to prize giveaways including smartphones and streetwear.

Of course none of these QR codes can actually be scanned while watching the video. The only way to read them is to play the video full screen, hit pause and scan.

It’s unfortunate that the contest and giveaway angle of this video isn’t better communicated. The idea has great possibilities for a scavenger-hunt style game. Viewers could scan the codes and earn points towards prizing.

They have provided a very good instructional video on how to use the QR codes, including a recommendation of the Red Laser scanner app.

Ford and ScanBuy team up for Ford Focus Hunt at Internet Week NY

Ford and ScanBuy have teamed up to launch the Ford Focus Hunt during Internet Week New York. People attending will have the chance to win Ford’s IWNY Prize Pack, including two tickets to the Webby Awards, a suite in the Roger Smith Hotel and a ride to the Awards in a 2012 Ford Focus (I suppose, it beats a cab).

To win the prize package, IWNY attendees will have to track down (according to the website you just have to find the IWNY Booth) and scan five QR codes to unlock special badges using their ScanLife reader.

When unlocked each of the badges highlight a feature of the 2012 Ford Focus. The badges were designed by New York graphic designer and illustrator Matthew Langille.

One beef I have is the relatively long form asking for not only my name and email, but my full address and phone number as well as opt-ins for future communications. After seeing the simplicity of the Mobio app entry form for the Top Chef Canada contest I posted about yesterday, this seemed like a bit of a step backward.

Top Chef Canada Cooks Up Contest with On-Air QR Codes

Top Chef Canada - Win a GE KitchenFans of Top Chef Canada can now win a $15,000 GE Monogram Kitchen by scanning a QR Code that will appear on-air during the show over the next 4 weeks. People who want to enter the contest but miss capturing the code during the tv show can visit the Top Chef website and capture the QR Code from their computer screen. The only other way to enter the contest is by physical mail. This should be enough to motivate viewers to download and register their Mobio app.

Mobio Identity Systems is a Vancouver-based company whose app is available for iPhone, Android and Blackberry. Once downloaded users are prompted to register their personal information. Once registered, a user can attach their credit card information to their Mobio account, turning their mobile phone into (in Mobio’s words) a “payphone”.

Mobio users scan QR codes as they appear in email, on the web, in print or on television using the app. In this example with Top Chef Canada, the user is taken to a contest entry form within the Mobio app. The difference with Mobio is that there is no need to type in your information, the user simply checks the box for name and email.

Back on April 27, Shaw Media (owner of The Food Network Canada) announced that they will be the official broadcast reseller of Mobio’s payment and marketing applications to ad agencies, media buyers and other clients across Canada.

The whole experience scanning the code from the website is very efficient, the scan and contest entry literally takes seconds. I watched tonight’s episode and missed seeing any QR code on the air during the show. Did you see it?

Top Chef Canada airs on The Food Network at 9pm ET/10pm PT.

A Lesson in QR Code Density

Dense QR Code exampleLast week my colleague Amy Sullivan, VP of Insight at Delvinia and myself presented a webinar on 2D Barcodes. One of several best practices that we covered was optimizing the density of your QR Code. We used this poster for the upcoming Photographic Video & Digital Imaging Show as an example of ‘what not to do’ with a QR Code.

Today I found a full size version of the poster (the previous version may have been downsized) and managed to scan it with success. I was quite disappointed to find that all it contained were the beginning and end dates of the show – these dates were already very prominent on the poster itself.

First of all, I would liked to have seen the QR Code send me to a mobile version of the show website, where I could view the schedule and exhibitors. In addition, It would have been great to see the show organizers provide a discount on admission for users who go to the trouble of scanning the code.

Embedding data within a QR Code

2D barcodes such as QR codes are embedded with information that when scanned trigger an event on your mobile phone. This event is usually a redirect to a URL, hopefully a ‘page’ optimized for the mobile web. It is essential that the information embedded in the URL be kept as short and to the point as possible.

QR Code Density Example

It should be obvious to anyone that the QR Code on the far left is much, much simpler. The URL has been shortened and there is simply less information to embed. The example in the middle contains a long Google link, and the one on the right contains all the information in a Vcard. Just because a QR Code can handle a lot of data doesn’t mean you should use it all.

Why keep things simple?

If you are going to all the trouble of working with a QR Code then you need to make it usable by as many people as possible. Users with older mobile devices with lower resolution cameras need as clear an image to scan as possible. Simplicity is the rule for any execution of a QR code that has data embedded within it.

Sun-Maid Uses QR Codes to Connect Product to Contest Site

Sun Maid uses QR Codes to connect consumers with contest entry
This week Sun-Maid Raisins launched a campaign contest promoting the Dreamworks film Kung Fu Panda 2. Sun-Maid raisin six-packs and 24 oz cannisters feature on-pack QR Codes that direct users to a mobile web destination where they can enter for a chance to win a grand-prize trip for four to Zoo Atlanta for an up-close and personal experience with a panda cub.

Rick Bruno, Vice President — Brand Management at Sun-Maid explained:

“By keeping the promotion entry simple and easily accessible by mobile devices, we anticipate a lot of entries and overall site activity, and we look forward to awarding someone with an exceptional grand prize

Hmmm, so tell me how it actually works

When the QR code is scanned it takes the user to a mobile friendly landing page (pictured at right). So far, so good. Things get a little weird from there. When ‘Enter to Win’ is tapped, the user is taken to ‘‘, the main promotion site and one not optimized for mobile. The user is then required to click ‘Enter to Win’ a second time and then led to the entry form.

Considering the fact that the campaign materials and press releases focus so heavily on the use of QR Codes, it’s unfortunate that the same attention was not given to providing a complete beginning-to-end experience optimized for the mobile user.

Remax Use QR Code to Connect Local Listings

Re-Max Sign - Could Your House Use a QR Code?Delvinia President, Steve Mast sent me this poster/billboard this morning. Real estate companies have been early adopters of mobile barcode technology so it’s not surprising to see them used in their outdoor advertising.

This is a good execution of highlighting the QR Code in the creative. The headline ‘Does Your Home Need a QR Code’ makes a direct reference to the large mobile barcode underneath. In a recent survey by AskingCanadians, almost 87% of respondents who own smartphones recognize what these codes are used for, so making reference to a QR code in an ad makes perfect sense.

Based on this high recognition factor, it may not be necessary to provide directions on every usage of QR codes in the future. The need for instructions may depend on your audience – are the majority of them smartphone users?

The URL incorporated into the border of the code provides an alternative way to access the content for users who don’t want to use a mobile barcode scanner app.

Once scanned I was redirected to the mobile page, where the page requested to use my location. Once I had given the page my location, Remax properties in my area were displayed.

An unanswered question

The question ‘Does Your Home Need a QR Code’ goes unanswered on the mobile site. It would have been nice to have seen a push to an agent or at least a link to more information on the advantage to using QR codes for the sale of your home or property,

QR Codes Can Work in the Subway… it Depends

Mobile barcodes (such as QR Codes) are appearing in more places everyday and it’s not uncommon to find them in Toronto’s subway system both as posters within the station or on the subway cars themselves. The subway system here in Toronto is mostly underground (which seems obvious, but with brief breaks into the open) and there is no Wi-fi available yet despite much talk in the recent past.

For people who know what QR codes are capable of, seeing QR codes displayed on ads in an environment where there is no internet connection is confusing. How could these possibly be useful?

The fact is, in most cases they are right, the actions initiated by scanning the code require an internet connection. But, a QR code can still be useful without an internet connection. The QR code could be embedded with additional text, simple contact information or instructions on what to do when you have a connection. A QR code can be embedded with up to 7089 characters, however the dot pattern would be too dense and the dots so small and most scanners would end up having trouble reading them. So, the reality is any additional information would have to be simple, direct and brief.

The important thing for advertisers to consider when placing mobile barcodes on ads in the subway or in any environment is, what are the limitations of the environment (space, low light) and what are you asking users to do. If you are asking users to connect to a site, or watch a video, it’s simply not going to work. Expecting a user to take out their smartphone on a crowded subway car, lean over other passengers to scan or capture the code is work enough – let alone expect them to access the code later when they get to the surface and have a connection. (most readers allow the codes to be saved)

The same issue with connectivity is going to exist whether an ad is displaying a web URL or it’s asking a user to text a keyword to a mobile short code. Mobile experiences work better ‘in the moment’ and having internet connectivity to complete the experience is essential.

At Delvinia we have created QR codes that contain the contact information for each of our team members. The QR codes can be accessed on our eCeption touchscreen allowing for an easy transfer of contact information onto an interested person’s mobile device. There are plans to include these codes on our website and possibly even business cards.

Direct vs Indirect

QR codes are embedded with information. This information could be a URL, a phone number, address, contact information. When a user scans a QR code it immediately initiates an action associated with the type of information, for example a URL opens a mobile browser, an address would open a map, and of course a phone number would initiate a phone call. In other words they act directly – this is why they can operate without an internet connection.

Proprietary codes such as ScanLife’s EZ Codes or Microsoft’s Tag require an internet connection as they are not directly embedded with the information to initiate the intended action. They contain a pointer to an online source where the actions are saved. QR codes can be used in this way too.

Advantages of using indirect codes are:

  • the code can be reused and the actions changed in the database
  • the dot patterns tend to be simpler allowing them to be more easily read by simpler phones
  • the code can be smaller as it is

So, next time you see a QR code on the subway give it a try. It may not be the complete #FAIL that you thought it was (but it probably is).

Mountain Equipment Co-op Link to History Via QR Code

Mountain Equipment Co-op - QR code muralDespite seeing QR codes popping up on virtually every corner around Toronto these days, it’s always interesting to see and make note of the various ways that retailers are using them. I spotted this QR code today outside the Mountain Equipment Co-op store at King West and Peter Street.

The mural celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the BC-based recreation outfitting company, and the QR code links passerby to a mobile page and great video detailing that history from the original group of six climbers pooling their $65 to create the company in 1971.


  • The QR code is a good size, it’s easily scanned if you can get close enough.
  • The destination page is mobile friendly (seems obvious but still some executions fail on this)
  • the content is a natural extension of the campaign and mural

Not so awesome

  • No instructions on what the QR code is, what to do with, or how to get download a QR code scanner app.
  • No alternative short code or url for users without scanner apps.
  • The position behind the bike racks is awkward to get to.

I think expecting every single person walking by with a mobile phone to stop and scan the QR code is unrealistic. Alternative ways to access content should be made available to the user as in the Macy’s and First Bank examples that I wrote about last week.