HBO launches QR code campaign for new show- Should they take a lesson from FOXTV?

Posted on September 23, 2010

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HBO is putting QR codes on bus shelters to promote the premiere of its newest show “Boardwalk Empire.”

Playing on the show’s theme of prohibition, the cable network is letting consumers scan the QR codes to reveal passwords to invite-only speakeasy events. HBO tapped agency PHD to power the campaign.

“[The strategy] was simple,” said Andrea Cardamone, group account director at PHD, New York. “Give people something of value and get them involved in the show’s narrative.

HBO QR code for Boardwalk Empire

Although a great way to engage consumers with a free drink offer and passwords, it seems that HBO leaves something to be desired on the actual landing page requested from this QR code.

Take a look at what FOXTV has done using QR codes, known as FOX Codes, to deliver promotional and added show content for FOX fall programming. The FOX codes will appear in outdoor signage, print, on-air and online and, when scanned, they will resolve to mobile websites, which provide insider content, videos, first-look photos, show secrets, cast interviews and more. The FOX Codes will be focused on three shows, Lone Star, Fringe and Glee.

QR or as FOX calls them- FOX Codes for 3 shows

Scan these from this post and see the difference. It is great to see the new technologies (mobile phone scanners- not QR codes!) being utilized to get eyeballs on the target. The real question in developing these types of campaigns should start with a solid use case. One solid beginning is to ensure cross platform usability (does the site look, work and feel the same on all the different platforms?), another is to make sure that the landing site functions properly and is easy to navigate, a third might be- content; once you have a consumer looking at the QR coded landing site, have you done everything to increase dwell time on the site.

Look at the difference between these two company approaches and draw your own conclusions. I would suggest that HBO has a great campaign, but lacks a bit in content, readability and cross platform consistency.

Mobile is growing leaps and bounds, but the technology is just an enabling factor, the basic rules of marketing still apply.

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