7 Reasons Why Your QR Codes Suck

QR Code cool car

QR Code cool car















QR Codes are the Hottest New thing in Marketing, Every Marketing Campaign Needs a QR Code – yep we’ve heard it all over the past year

And my, haven’t we seen lots of QR codes.

Question time: How many times have you actually scanned a QR code in the past year? and of those few times, how often have you gone thought ‘wow, I’m glad I did that’ (note: if you have, I’d love to hear about it in the comments at the bottom of this page)

Yep – just about 12 months after the QR craze – it’s hard to come to any conclusion other than:

QR codes suck

Or more accurately, their execution do. They are the most commonly misused ‘technology’ in modern marketing in this post I’ll explain the 7 reasons why, with some of my favorite examples.

But it didn’t need to be this way – if used correctly QR codes could have and should have brought value to users – it’s easier to scan something than type in a long web url. However badly executed QR codes by marketers who don’t have a clue have meant they have moved from ‘Wired’ to ‘Tired’ in record time.

Oh well.

7 Reasons Why Your QR Codes Suck

QR Code Underground

QR Codes on Underground = Not Clever








1 Badly thought out

OK – don’t expect you to foresee the future and I know we’re dealing with hot new tech here, but maybe just a bit of ‘using your head’………

How many times have you seen a QR code an inflight magazine, or on the Underground? how exactly are you meant to scan these when there is no internet connection? The above photo is a great example

QR Code Bottle Fail

So I’m supposed to scan this, how?










2  In the Wrong Place

See above – a picture speaks a thousand words. Knowing where your QR code will be placed is a good starting point, at what point did this marketer realise that their code was actually unscannable?

OMG a QR Code

OMG it’s a QR Code!!!!








3 No Context

How many times have you seen a lone QR in a window or on a wall. I firmly believe the person who put it there thinks that you’re going to stop, think ‘Oh my God, it’;s a QR code – I better scan it QUICK!’, pull out your phone from your pocket and start scanning it

QR Code no reality

Now aren’t I glad I packed my 3D glasses today








 4 Not Living in Reality

The sooner you realise that people do not stop on the street and get excitied about your QR codes the better. You get excited about your ads because you spent a long time making them. People don’t, unless they give a benefit that they really care about.

I mean check out the above – this advertiser is expecting someone to ‘happen’ to have a pair of 3D glasses with them, willing to stop, take them out, put them on look at the 3D and then pull out their phone and scan the QR code.

How many people did this? I think you know the answer

QR Toilet

Yes, that’s a QR code in a toilet








5  Not Having a Clear Benefit

Include a benefit to the user for going to the truble of scanning your code.

‘Scan here and receive a $10 =voucher’ – I might think about it

‘Scan here’ – errr, how about I don’t.


So, you know it’s hard to scan moving objects right?

6  Not Knowing How QR Codes Work

Having a bit of knowledge how QR codes work, can be useful. Check out the campaign on the left of QR code assed beach volleyball team. This is a true story.

Have you ever tried scanning a moving QR code?






QR Email

Hackers should know better..










7  Doing them to make you Look Cool

Throw on a QR code – it’ll make us look cool. QR codes for a very specific, beneficial purpose work (I like QR code scavenger or treasure hunts for example, when each code scans to clues to the next codes etc). QR codes for QR’s sake is where the issues begin.

OK – what’s wrong with the above image? this was received in an email. So instead of just clicking on a link, you now hav to take your phone out of your pocket and scan the screen like a twit.

And what happens if you’re reading the email on your phone? Try scanning that one!

QR Code high

Tips on a Successful QR Code

OK, QR codes are far from dead yet – and although I laugh at many examples in this post, they can be valauble if used correctly. If you’re going to use QR codes, do the following:

1  Make sure the QR code is somewhere prominent that people can see (having an internet connection can help too )

2 Tell people what they can expect to see if they scan the code (make it sound worthwhile with a clear benefit)

3  Reward them with an offer for scanning the code

Or else don’t bother

Your Turn: Seen any hilarious QR Code Campaigns? Or remember any QR Code campaigns that you actually thought were good? Share them in the comments below!

Credit: I got all these QR photos from the awesome blog WTF QR Code


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