For those that haven't seen it, the ad shows Delia Smith (Norwich's most famous daughter) showing us how to cook Roast ribs of beef with Yorkshire pudding:
There it is. An Epiphany for Mobile Marketing. The defining point in the acceptance of a mobile call-to-action in what is, one of the most jealously guarded pieces of advertising real-estate. Mobile has reached the big-time. Everyone in the Mobile industry should raise a toast.
Well... err... I don't think so...
When I heard about this on Friday I got a little bit angry. In fact, I needed coaxing down from the light fittings by one of the Account Manager here. Why? Because it it this kind of inappropriate use of Mobile that really really riles me. As far as I am concerned, it is another example of what I mentioned in my post back in August about the number of poor executions of Mobile in marketing.
Let me explain... The ad is very much in keeping with the recent Waitrose ads - one of Delia or Heston showing a 35 second recipe which, obviously, needs a series of ingredients from Waitrose which are nicely bundled up in-store for you. As I understand it, the run has been very successful for them and an effective response to the "food as sex" M&S ads. And if you watched the video, you will probably have noticed a funny looking square in the final frame. Here it is again:
There, in the final frame is a QR (quick response) code. A 2-dimensional barcode that, when scanned by an application on a mobile phone can include plenty of information (such as a contact record) and do plenty of things (like auto create an SMS), but is most frequently used to launch the phone's browser to a particular URL.
So let me explain with why this isn't as good as it should be...
The QR code is on-screen for 2-3 seconds and, as you can see, is accompanied by absolutely no explanation. So given this, who could respond? Well, you're looking at smartphone users (c.30% of the phone-owning population) who either already know what a QR code is, or are so intrigued by the funny looking square that they do some research to find out about it, and who have (or know that they have) a barcode-reading app on their device. Oh, and they have to get their phone, open the app and scan the barcode within 3 seconds.
When it comes to CTAs, particularly mobile ones, I like to apply what I call the "Bedford Test" - I like to imagine that were I to walk into Bedford town centre (the nearest town to where I live) and ask a random selection of the people that I come across what a QR code is, would they know what to do. Well, what do you think? Does this pass the Bedford Test? I don't think so.
So, just taking the ad and the placement of the QR code at face value, I wonder who the target consumer is? If it's Digital Executives based in London then we're all good. If it's 35-45 year old females then we're not so good...
Ok, so let's assume that the consumers are savvy in this kind of thing, and are able to scan the code using their phone in the 3 seconds that is available to them (or have Sky+). What happens? Given there is no explanation, you may assume that you get pushed to the waitrose.com/christmas URL that is alongside it in the ad (and is not mobile optimsed BTW). Nope. You get pushed to a URL to download their Christmas app. It's pretty clever in that if you have a supported device (iPhone or Android only) you get pushed to the app in the appropriate app store/market. But what if you don't have an iPhone or Android device (there are more smartphones that aren't than are...)? You get pushed to a page like this:
* Sorry for the poor image quality. It was from an N97 after all...
Basically, a page called "Other phones", that says the Christmas app is not supported on your phone. Oh. Thanks for that Waitrose!
So, in short, it'll generate a low response rate and for those that do respond, a fair proportion are likely to get a poor user experience.
There's a few (kind of) counter arguments that have been levied at me over the last few days, so let me address these:
But this is great for Mobile. It's a mobile CTA on TV. Think about the exposure.
Well, I can't argue that the exposure is large. But that is the frustration - there have been a significant amount of projects that I have been involved in where we have deployed something really nice but which has suffered because the client has failed to back it with activity to drive awareness or activity. ATL media space is jealously guarded and there is often a real reluctance from the lead agency to include a mobile call-to-action. So when you do get the chance, you should use it wisely - it's like being given a test drive in a F1 car and crashing on the first corner. If the activity is going to be measured on response, then there is a danger that a poor response will result in all Mobile being tarred with the QR-brush and being consigned to BTL comms.
The exposure at image this gives to Waitrose is great.
If Waitrose want exposure in the Mobile or Digital press then fine, this may very well give them what they want. However, I've also seen an awful lot of "why oh why" type comments from the Twitterati... But I would be very surprised if there isn't a metric around response rates (this is a direct response CTA after all) and I would also be surprised if it meets it. As I argue above, if you've got the chance to include a Mobile CTA, please use it more wisely.
But QR codes are cool. Everyone is talking about them and they're going to be huge.
No they're not. And no they're not.
QR are codes are a nice mechanic, they're a quick and easy way to drive users to an online destination. Used at the appropriate time, in an appropriate way they can be very effective. But they are not widely recognised and the broad consumer understanding doesn't exist - the UK isn't like Japan (where I've seen QR code tattoos!), and the uptake of QR codes will only ever be slow. Let me dispel the thought that these are cutting edge - does anyone remember The Sun trying to introduce them into the mainstream and including a pull-out all about QR codes? In 2007! I just love the line "your technology-crazy Sun is going to be at the forefront of the revolution". If the combined force of The Sun and Keeley don't manage to bring them to the fore of the collective consciousness then I'm not sure what will...
So what would I have done?
Pretty simple really, I'd have included an SMS call to action "Text WAITROSE to 8NNNN":
- Everyone with a phone can send an SMS (it is the only killer-app for mobile) and so no-one is excluded.
- It is memorable, so the consumers don't have to grab their phone and respond whilst the ad is on-screen.
- It allows you to respond to the consumer via SMS, meaning you can set the consumers expectations with your reply.
- You start a conversation - you've got their mobile number and so can have a dialogue with them, and so engage with them in other ways.
At it's simplest level, SMS is the most democratising of channels, as everyone can engage if they want to. After all, what does using a QR code say to Waitrose's customers?
Surprisingly, I don't like knocking other Mobile activity. But equally, I do like to see it done well as, for whatever we say, it is still an industry that is fighting hard to be recognised alongside other channels. And so because of this, everything that "we" do, on whatever scale, needs to be as appropriate and effective as we can make it...
UPDATE: My latest post discusses how Sky TV have done a far better job of executing a QR code campaign: http://blog.the-bods.co.uk/2010/12/now-that-is-how-qr-codes-should-be-done.html