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QR codes – the good, the bad and the ugly

Over the last few years we have seen a lot of QR codes passing by. We collected some good examples of brands using QR codes and of course some of the bad examples too. 


Good examples 

#1 Heinz Ketchup

Heinz knows exactly how to use QR codes; their first QR code campaign aired in 2011. They put the QR code on the ketchup bottle in the US restaurants to promote the new environmentally friendly packaging. The QR code linked to a mobile site where the customers could win prizes by answering trivia questions about their green knowledge. More than 1 million consumers scanned the code.


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One year later they decided to use the codes again. They used the same idea they used in 2011 only this time the QR code linked to a special site where the consumers could thank the military servicemen and servicewomen. With each thank you note the Wounded Warrior Project received $1, donated by Heinz. They ended up collecting $250.000.


#2 Coca Cola

Coca Cola created one of the most engaging QR code campaigns in 2012. Wendy’s and Coca Cola partnered up on this one and it turned out to be success. Let me tell you why: In the fall of 2012 every customer who bought a combo deal at Wendy’s received a cup with a QR code. The QR code linked to a Wendy’s sweepstakes website at Once on the site you were asked to search the web or search offline for promotional codes. Once you found the promotional code you could enter it on the promotional micro site.


This way you had a chance to win the Ultimate Football Tailgating Prize, a 2012 QMC Sierca Truck and much more. They had over 1,900 prizes in total. This is one of the reasons the QR campaign turned out great. In just two months they had more than 273,275 unique users who accessed the site from 755 different device models from almost 8,000 different cities.


Bad Examples 

We believe you can find the worst QR code examples in places you cannot even scan the code, such as Billboards and T-shirts. You can find a lot of these bad examples on We collected a few we thought were the worst.


#1 QR code in train station

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In this example you get hit by a train if you try to scan the QR code! It’s not one of the best places to put a QR code. Try and make it as easy as possible to scan the code otherwise costumers won’t even bother to do it.


#2 QR codes on Billboards

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QR codes on Billboards. I don’t even know why they bother. A customer won’t be able to scan it unless he is some kind of superman. The distance is too far and you will not have time to scan it properly. If you do want to put a QR code on a billboard, make sure it’s at a good height and it’s on a place that customers walk by it, not drive.


#3 QR codes in bottles

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Have fun trying to scan this QR code. Let me tell you it won’t work.


As you can see there are some good examples of QR code campaigns but a lot of bad examples too.  If you’re thinking of using QR codes for your campaign, please think it through and make sure it’s practical and useful.