Analysis of Print Ads with Mobile: Part 4

Bryce MarshallOver the last few weeks I’ve been sharing my analysis of various print ads that use mobile calls to action to engage readers. Found in the May issue of Wired, I took a look at how Volkswagen, Kohler, and Buick, implemented mobile calls to action in their ads. Here’s my analysis of the final ad of the series: Porsche.
Porsche customizes their MS Tag
Towards the middle of the book is Porsche’s full page ad for their “Porsche Everyday” campaign – essentially selling the Porsche brand as a legitimate option for everyday driving, regardless of your activity or geography. The ad features a customized MS Tag at the top right of the ad, which is ambitious and effective placement for a 2D barcode because it is one of the first things you see when you flip the page to the Porsche ad. Too often the 2D barcodes are relegated to a bottom corner in print ads.

The customized MS Tag (one-color black with a faint silhouette of a Porsche drawn over the Tag) is a double-edged sword.

Their customization effectively erases most of the distinguishing characteristics of the MS Tag code format: the CMYK color scheme and the triangle shapes. What is left is a 2D code that is not immediately recognizable as a 2D code – which is both a benefit and a drawback. The code blends more harmoniously with the ad layout than the garish default MS Tag look would, but this also means consumers may not recognize it for what it is, and most importantly that only the MS Tag reader app can be used to scan the Tag. This is a critical point because MS Tag’s technology is proprietary. If the consumer can’t recognize the 2D code as a Tag (and if there is no supporting copy identifying it as a Tag), they will spend a lot of time trying to scan the Tag with their QR code reader app.

In all fairness to Porsche, there is fine-type copy above the Tag stating “Get the free reader app at 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.

The “Porsche Everyday” campaign is anchored by a very creative, very engaging wired-web microsite. The URL to this site is clearly the primary call-to-action of the entire ad. When scanning the MS Tag the user is linked to a mobile-optimized adaptation of the campaign microsite, and it is executed very effectively. Considering the relative complexity of the wired microsite, the mobile adaptation is an extraordinary effort that delivers a good degree of the engagement of the wired site, while still standing up on its own as an effective web destination.
For the simple fact that the elements of Porsche’s mobile response tactics work in harmony together – from the campaign concept to print ad execution, 2D code execution, and the mobile web destination – their effort gets highest marks among the four ads. This is not to discount Buick’s simple and effective mobile web page, or VW’s logical use of SMS as standout performances. Altogether these ads illustrate the fact that effective use of mobile response methods is based on thoughtful execution in consideration of the advertising context, and careful coordination of multiple online and offline elements.

So what do you think? Is there an example you’d like my two cents about? I invite you to leave a comment.

One Comment

  1. David Luttenberger
    Posted June 7, 2011 at 7:02 am | Permalink

    Agree w/much of what you write, especially how tags/codes should not be disguised. I present on the mobile marketing topic every week at major CPG and retailers and teach them “design disruption vs. brand integration.” Make tags/codes overt. As the Packaging Strategist at consumer insights firm Iconoculture, I’ve also developed my own Rules of Engagement for Mobile Marketing for Packaging…much of which could be applied to print ads as well. I will be a featured speaker on this topic at the major US trade show, PackExpo, later this year. In fact, I’m headed today to do a repeat presentation for a multi-national food producer on the topic.

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