A QR Disaster

Andrew Sullivan —  Mar 17 2012 @ 8:29am


Hugo Macdonald is flabbergasted by the rise of Quick Response barcodes in advertising:

The idea might be simple to a boardroom of ad and marketing execs – but did nobody stop to question if it might be a tiny bit ridiculous? An advert is about selling an idea instantly, cleverly, mesmerisingly through an image and a message. Who has time to stand in front of an advert, fiddle around with a smartphone and then read reams. The whole concept is a complete anathema to what the advertising industry stands for. 

Christine Erickson spoke with one of the creators of the new tumblr WTF QR Codes:

"I started taking pictures of them just to capture the ridiculousness," says Brad Frost, a mobile web strategist and front-end designer at digital ad agency R/GA. "I started scanning them because many should go to worthwhile mobile-optimized web experiences, and as a web designer I was curious to see if that actually happens — it almost always doesn’t."

Frost captions the above image: "Look! In the sky! It's a bird! It's a plane! It's the dumbest thing I've ever seen in my life!" On a more serious note, Jon Barocas lists other reasons QR codes are doomed, including security fears:

Recently, there have been documented cases of QR code misuse and abuse around the globe. For instance, infected QR codes can download an app that embeds a hidden SMS texting charge in your monthly cellphone bill. QR codes can also be used to gain full access to a smartphone — Internet access, camera, GPS, read/write local storage and contact data. All of the data from a smartphone can be downloaded and stolen, putting the user at risk for identity theft — without the user noticing.