Digital Acceleration Baby: The QR Code Menu And Covid-19
This post is about the increasingly ubiquitous QR Code menu as an indicator of digital acceleration in the time of Covid-19. There are few things I personally dislike more than mobile phone usage at the table. However, your mobile is now a critical element in the restaurant experience.
First, a bit of Nike. A few years ago I had a really depressing meeting with my long-term client Nike about the use of a graphical QR code on their worldwide packaging. I gave Nike a very doable idea about what I absolutely knew was a brilliant, low cost, and potentially powerful global marketing mobile experience. Simply embed a QR code into every Swoosh logo on every box that found its way into every house in every country. Turn every dumb box into in-house 24/7 mobile marketing. Bring Jordan into the home.
Yes, QR codes can be graphical. The digital watermark QR code idea was developed by Digimark, another agency client. The idea was to replace the funky black and white code with an interactive logo, picture, or word. I am talking about having an interactive Swoosh mobile marketing tool hand-carried into millions of homes. Easy, cheap, doable. And why the fuck not? Did Nike buy this idea? No. They just stared at me – “Why would we want to send a digital experience into homes vs. our current “dumb, do nothing paper box?’ I was like. “Are you kidding me?” That was the day I decided after giving really smart ideas to clients over my 30-year global advertising career, including winning programs that delivered lots of EFFIES, that I was done with owning an agency. Frankly, it felt like pearls before swine. Am I being harsh? Sure. Read all about the experience and see the Nike presentation here:
The QR Code Menu As Indicator
I first noticed the use of QR codes in Tokyo in the early 2000s. I was standing on a street corner in Shibuya and saw some teens pointing their phones up at a QR code on an outdoor board. I went over and saw that their aiming triggered a digital experience appearing on their phones. Whoa!!!
I said, we gotta have some of that.
Cut to like 8 years later and my advertising / digital agency started working with the tech leader Digimarc which owned the patents for digital watermarking. That is how I came to the idea of creating an interactive “smart box”.
Restaurants. Way back in 2018 there were over 600,000 restaurants and 54,000 hotel properties in the USA. All of these businesses are barely touching the opportunities embedded in mobile marketing.
Why just a menu? Digital check-in? Why not more remarketing? Diner or guest data? And, on.
Covid-19 As Accelerant
Cut to 2020. What more can be done?. Covid-19 is acting as a digital accelerant. More people are buying online, ordering food delivery, communicating with brands online, and now using their phones to read a digital menu. We are studying more online and getting digital healthcare, using exercise apps, ordering in.
Less touching and breathing all around.
As more and more people of all ages are becoming even more slavish to their Androids and iPhones… shouldn’t we be seeing more and more uses of the handy mobile code as a marketing tool?
Side note. China, as an example of the future, has gone like 100% mobile. You even scan and pay by phone for the low-cost bao bun on Shanghai’s food street Fangbang Road. We, MAGA focussed Americans, will get there sooner or later.
Your Digital Agency & The Code, And Big Ideas: GO!
OK folks. Your agency should always be looking for new ideas to excite your clients. What can you do with THE CODE?
Advertising, mobile events, packaging, in-store, on the street… For Burger King or your local pizza chain?
Should I send this blog post to Nike? Adidas, Amazon, any brand with a box at a time when in-store interactions are down?
OH!!!! Maybe your agency should!!!