Part 1: Volkswagen
I’ll provide my review of each of the four ads. Let’s start with Volkswagen.
VW uses SMS
The first of the four was VW’s full page ad for the 2011 Touareg Hybrid, just opposite the Wired table of contents page. Bucking the recent trends of brands throwing around QR codes with abandon, VW’s mobile response offering was through SMS. The very simple and well-worded call to action: (below) “See the story behind the Touareg supercharged hybrid. Text HYBRID3 to 892277 to unlock the video.”
VW is making the most of SMS knowing this allows the greatest potential audience to interact via their mobile device. Even though the received SMS message links to a mobile web site (on the right) (which limits the potential audience to those with a suitable device and broadband connection), I like the additional option to continue the engagement through SMS alone. All too often SMS is abandoned too early by brands in their haste to transfer users to a mobile web page or device app.
Part 2: Kohler
Kohler Using QR codes
Flip 7 pages forward to find Kohler’s full-page ad for their Flipside line of shower heads. Kohler uses a straightforward QR code – one-color, black, no customizations – at the bottom of the ad.
Thankfully it is large enough to scan well. The QR code links the users’ smartphone to a mobile-optimized page dedicated to the Flipside product line. So at a basic level, the execution of this campaign is very sound.
Two issues: the mystery code and the dead end.
I’m continually fascinated by brands that continue to use what I call the “mystery code” approach, and the fact that the mobile web site leveraged does not have the appropriate content for the application.
The QR code in the ad sits on its own with no supporting copy. There is no call-to-action, no description of the valuable content or experience the consumer will benefit from by taking the time to scan the code, and no explanation of how to participate if the user needs a reminder (or needs a URL to download a QR code reader). This is classic application of the “mystery code” approach, where the lack of any call to action or value proposition means only consumers who are extremely curious and have previous knowledge and comfort with scanning QR codes, will participate. This is a poor approach for creating a compelling reason for a larger audience of users to participate.
When you scan the QR code to reach the mobile web site (on the right), the execution is sound. The site provides a ton of content specific to the shower head model featured in the ad. There is a functional video link (though it links to Kohler’s YouTube site) for some nice engagement. Technical information is provided in addition to ability to download information on installation. However, there is no way for the consumer to act: no way to navigate to a page where a user can buy the shower head, no tool for finding a nearby retailer, no phone number to call to order. So even if the ad and the mobile site have done their job and compelled a user to want this product, Kohler has lead the user down a dead-end street.
Part 3: Buick
Buick steps outside the box
There’s a lot to like about Buick’s 2-page spread for the Buick Regal Turbo. Buick is clearly trying to update their brand image to appeal to younger buyers. To bring this point home, Buick leverages Google Goggles as their mobile response technology. At the bottom right of the ad is a subtle Goggles icon. Just below the icon in the bottom right border of the ad is a refreshingly clear call-to-action statement: “Unlock this ad’s interactive features.
Photograph this entire ad with Google Goggles on Android or iPhone.” I’m excited that Buick is experimenting with mobile response methods beyond 2D barcodes, SMS, or mobile URLs. But knowing that this process (and Google Goggles itself) may be unfamiliar to some users, they provide explicit instructions (though I would have liked to see a short statement on the need to download Google Goggles from the Android or iPhone app stores).
Google Goggles is a nice tool, though I’m not sure how many day-to-day consumers are familiar with how it works. Essentially it’s a visual search tool: when you use Goggles app to scan an image of anything, it kicks off a Google search based on image recognition. In essence Buick is asking users to use Goggles to recognize the print ad, and direct the user the matching information, which happens to be Buick’s mobile web site for the campaign.
Here’s the price of experimentation though. First users must scan the entire print ad for this to work. In order for the Goggles app to scan the entire 2-page ad, you have to hold the phone a good 2-3 feet above the ad. This is problematic if the magazine is sitting on your lap. I had to set the magazine flat on a table, stand up, and hold my phone at chest-level in order for this to work.
Once Goggles has recognized the print ad, the app brings up the search results based on that image. Fortunately for Buick, the first search result is the link to the mobile-optimized site (at right) for the campaign. But there are more problems. Don’t hold your phone high enough above the magazine to scan the entire ad? Goggles also recognizes parts of the ad, and the search results are different. In one case Goggles recognized only the headline in the ad, and the search results took me to a Google page with dozens of results most with links to Buick’s standard, non-mobile website. When I first scanned the entire ad with Goggles, the app listed two additional search results below the link to Buick’s web page – and neither result was anything Buick wanted to be a part of. We must remember that Goggles is a visual search engine, and apparently Buick cannot (or did not want to) limit results to only the intended destination. This is a bit of an issue.
Buick gets high marks for creating the best mobile web destination among these 4 examples discussed in this series. The site is very tied-in with the campaign, offers 3 short videos for effective but quick engagement opportunities, and a single CTA to “discover more” which links to the Regal’s product page on m.buick.com, where an interested user can view additional details and find a dealer. Nice work.
Part 4: Porsche
Porsche customizes their MS Tag
In all fairness to Porsche, there is fine-type copy above the Tag stating “Get the free reader app at http://gettag.mobi The issue is this copy blends in precisely with the other fine-type copyright and disclaimer copy at the top of the ad.
Porsche also falls victim to the “mystery code” temptation, associating no call-to-action with the MS Tag or attempting to illustrate the experience or value the user will gain from scanning. Between this and the customized Tag, I wonder if overall response is negatively impacted. Once the Tag is scanned, Porsche’s execution of the mobile site is extraordinary.
So what do you think? Is there an example you’d like my two cents about? I invite you to leave a comment.