As I toured around Glasgow searching for different movie advertisements, I found out several things that I hadn’t expected. The main thing I noticed being the sheer lack of QR recognition by the larger studios that create the posters for films. Considering the small size of two dimensional codes it seems like one would be remiss if they didn’t include it on the posters that line the walls of the cinema or, in the case of Glasgow, line the outside of the building. I was able to find a few posters that did have a code on them and what I was directed towards left me disheartened and annoyed.
The first poster featuring a QR code was for The Watch starring Ben Stiller, Vince Vaughn, Richard Ayoade and Johan Hill. Set casually in the bottom right hand of the advert the code scanned in easily and I was immediately taken to the official UK Facebook page for the film. This is actually one of the better codes I’ve come across because the site offers trailers, clips, interviews, poll and open discussion about the film. The problem with the code is that the site can be accessed easily from anything connected to the Internet; scanning the QR doesn’t offer anything hidden or otherwise inaccessible, which really should be the benefit of taking the time to pull out your phone and scan it.
Seth MacFarlane’s Ted also follows The Watch in where you’re directed once scanning the poster’s QR code. The user is sent to the official UK site for the film. Unlike The Watch’s Facebook page, Ted offers nothing new. Three photos, a one-sentence explanation of Ted and the Red Band trailer is all you’ll find on the mobile site.
Independent UK film, Offender, also features a QR code on the poster though this one is even more stripped down than Ted. Scanning the code takes the user to the YouTube trailer page for the film, nothing more. I like this style because it gets right to what people want to know about a film without forcing you to work your way through unnecessary websites and pages. The trailer — also easily accessed by just typing the title into YouTube — is one of the most influential advertisements bringing people into the theatre, so when a poster catches your eye it makes sense to provide a preview that could be the deciding factor if a film is worth seeing.
Not all posters were a disappointment though; I did find some posters that rewarded those with smart phones and time to scan. Around bus stops and lining the walls of the subway more posters could be found featuring the little box of static. The Dark Knight Rises poster features a QR code revealing an unreleased poster of Catwoman building further excitement for those who have yet to see the film. Christopher Nolan is wise not to give too much away during the promotion of his film so this sort of marketing is perfect because people get to see a little bit more without having anything spoiled.
Another film I came across was Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy. The poster’s code redirects users to a contest where one lucky person could win two VIP tickets to Irvine Welsh’s Ecstasy World Premiere, a limousine for two nights, a five star hotel for two nights, photographs with Irvine Welsh and the cast, £2,000 spending cash, two VIP tickets to the after party at the Ministry of Sound. It is this kind of QR campaign that could push these codes more into the mainstream for film marketing. I tried finding the same contest page by scanning the official site and searching Google but I came up short, which means scanning the code is necessary to have a chance to win.
As you can see there is a wide range of ways these QR codes can be used in the future for mobile marketing. There are clearly benefits of storing a large amount of data on such a tiny piece of code but the true success of QR codes will only come if they are worth scanning. The British Film Institute has also adopted a QR code that easily allows subscribers of Sight & Sound to vote in the election of Member Governor for 2012. It seems that while this technology may be used more by the film industry in the future, it isn’t too active at the moment. I’ve never been one who needed information immediately and I’ll happily wait until I return home to find out about a new film. Until the vast majority of people have smart phones with Internet capabilities there just isn’t any need for any studios to blaze the trail for the rise of the QR code.