QR Code Fails You Would Want to Avoid


The best thing about QR codes is that they are very easy to generate and they are free to use. And the worst thing about QR codes? It is that they are very easy to generate and they are free to use. Yes, you have read that right. The very things that make QR codes great are also the bane of their existence.

Why? Because it is free and easy to use, QR codes are being abused. Marketers are in no pressure to think about what they would do with their QR code so that it would provide customers a great experience. And a lot of advertisers have made very grave mistakes.

Here are some:

1. Bank of America

The Bank of America Facebook page used not just one but two customized QR codes as its profile picture.

bank of america

Why it failed: You are already on a browser. If you want to direct people to a resource on the Web, the best way to do that is by giving a link. They could easily tap on or click a link on your page.

Just think about it. If your customer is viewing your Facebook page on a mobile device, do you really expect people to borrow another smartphone just so they could scan your QR code when they could have easily tapped a link to your intended resource?

Same logic goes for those who like to include QR codes in their e-mail signatures.

2. QR Codes on a Drinking Straw

For a while, there were a couple of companies that wanted to put up QR codes on drinking straws. If people were putting QR codes on table napkins, surely there would be people scanning these QR codes, right? But on drinking straws?

That certainly takes advertising to a whole new level.

Why this failed: To make it very short and very simple, this idea failed big time because the QR codes never scanned properly. The QR codes were just too small to get a good scan out of it. What’s more, because the codes were on a circular surface, you would need to flatten it out first, and even then, it was no guarantee that you could successfully scan it.

There are other similarly bad places to put your QR code. These are:

On very high buildings. There are companies that put up their QR codes on very high buildings. And most people are on ground level. From the ground, it would be very difficult to get a successful scan because of the angle at which you have to hold your device just to get the whole QR code on your screen.

On billboards along busy streets. As if we do not have enough accidents involving people who text and drive, some advertisers want drivers to scan and drive! Putting your QR codes on busy streets is a recipe for disaster.

On subways. Speaking of QR codes that are dangerous to scan, have you ever tried to scan a QR code placed on the other side of the platform? A good way to lose your arm.

3. Betfair

Betfair probably has one of the lousiest marketing departments in the world. It has the money to spend on sponsorships, banner ads and even TV airtime. But then it chose to spend it all on this:


What you are looking at is the backsides of beach volleyball star players Shauna Mullin and Zara Dampney.

If that is not enough, they followed it up with this:


This time around, Chantal Sutherland wears the Betfair QR code. Betfair is starting to become the butt of the joke, right?

But Betfair upped the ante, they wanted to move to the head of the pack with this:


The boys of Bromley FC sported a QR code haircut.

All of these QR codes are designed to provide maximum exposure for Betfair, which is an online betting site. When scanned, it takes you to an appropriate page on their site.

Why it failed: The QR codes have generated a lot of interest and talk for Betfair, alright. Plus, it is a great show that they know their brand and know their audience. But really, have you ever tried to scan a QR code when it is moving? We think that it would be next to impossible to get a good scan of Shauna Mullin's butt while she is going for a serve, right?