AR / QR codes serving a real purpose

Working with the creative industries can be challenging at times because although the technologies and tools that we have access to are exciting and in many instances revolutionary it is important that we do our job, and that means recommending that clients invest in new innovations for the right reasons.


AR (augmented reality) can be a very testing example. Using Blippar, AR codes bring a product or service ‘to life’ creating an interactive visual for consumers to watch and engage with. This technology was a real triumph for the UK, after launching in 2011 it has become a subject that is regularly debated around agency and client boardrooms.


The same can be said for QR (quick response) codes, which are more frequently cropping up on posters, marketing materials, packaging and even business cards! Consumers are used to seeing these codes now and I don’t argue that they are attracting attention but how successful a campaign will be as a result of a QR code featuring on pack remains to be seen.


Turning this theory completely on its head, I read a piece recently about Mercedes Benz who have clearly thought long and hard about how this technology can be used to massive benefit, and are now featuring QR codes on all of their vehicles.


The reason they are doing this is to help to save car crash victims. When the QR code is scanned it will take the viewer to a webpage which will give details of how to cut into each vehicle to save those trapped inside as a result of a road traffic accident.


What’s even more commendable about this story is that Daimler have waivered the right to patent the innovation and are actually encouraging other manufacturers to include QR codes on their vehicles. 


Now this is a campaign that uses QR codes and I can completely understand why. Equally however those responsible for choosing to use this technological innovation in this way have sat down and thought about objectives – how can this technology add value to our customers and make life easier for others.


All they now have to rely on is police, firemen and paramedics carrying around SmartPhones but perhaps this is an opportunity for forces, brigades and NHS services to ensure that their employees are equipped with the tools that they need to do the job. Better still, perhaps one of the leading phone brands could commit to providing a number of Smart enabled devices per force, brigade and service?


There is no doubt that times continue to change and if ever there was a PR stunt ready for the taking it’s right here. So come on West Yorkshire police force, fire service and NHS Trust, step forward, I know a good PR agency who will support you with this investment story!