A clever marketing effort that incorporates QR codes in a new way always piques my interest, and the Guinness QR cup fits this bill perfectly. Created by BBDO New York, there is a QR code on the glass that is only visible when filled with the intended beverage – Guinness. Once scanned, a variety of actions are available, including a Facebook status update, tweets about the pint of Guinness, a Foursquare check-in, downloadable coupons, and more.
The ads supporting the Guinness QR cup claim “When the pint glass is filled with ordinary beer, the QR code is unreadable.” Hate to break it to you, BBDO, but dark beer doesn’t mean Guinness. With this glass, the only requirement to view the QR code is that the beer be dark. I am a beer aficionado-in-training (thanks, sensei Rosengren) and during my teachings, I’ve been lucky enough to try a decent amount of dark beers, none of which have been Guinness. Imperial browns, stouts, and coffee-infused brews could all very well accomplish the intended task, and drinking those libations will not encourage Guinness sales. Though the surprise of finding the QR code when actually drinking a Guinness in this cup might prove a pleasant find to the beer drinker, should someone not indulging in a Guinness partake in the QR experience, they may be upset that they are greeted with the umpteen actions that occur on behalf of the beverage company after they have scanned the code.
So how could this idea have been improved? Below are three suggestions that either BBDO can steal from me (just give me credit in the comments here, okay?) or others can use when they borrow the idea from Guinness.
First, let your consumers know just who is behind this clever idea. As mentioned above, your beer drinkers won’t know what brand it is that wants them to scan, thus possibly leading to either fewer actual scans or the underwhelming feeling of being tricked into a marketing ploy by a big beer brand. To soften the blow, the Guinness name could be printed on glasses in addition to the QR code. Not only would consumers know who to thank for a positive QR-scanning experience, but as an added bonus, your bartenders may be more likely to serve this glass with the beer it is intended for.
Now let’s discuss where one is scanning on the cup. The planning of the placement of a QR code is almost as important as what happens when one scans the code, meaning this should be thought through carefully. With that high of a placement on the glass, Guinness is counting on bartenders to be gentle with their pours. That, and the drinker not indulging their palate with the stout-y notes immediately. Should someone happen upon this glass at their next bar, they would be forced into scanning before the first few sips, or the code will no longer be visible. If the code was placed further down the glass, the likelihood of QR-scanning and completion of the intended action increases exponentially.
Last but not least, creating a more inclusive QR-scanning experience might prove more effective than the exclusivity currently offered. Rather than only award those who drink a dark beer, let the individuals that partake in “ordinary” beer see a little of what they’re missing. In addition to the QR code that is only visible when the glass is filled with Guinness, a QR code that can only be seen when either empty or filled with the wrong beer could lead to a brief YouTube video showing the drinker what happens when they fill their special QR cup with Guinness. The code could even lead to a coupon that will provide a discount on the next beer purchase – of Guinness, that is.
Am I wrong to think this product could be improved before it’s even really launched? What would you change – anything?