There was consternation last week amongst Watford fans with the unveiling of the new club shirt. The team’s kit sponsor, recently announced as “The Happy Egg Co.” (a free-range egg brand) led some to be worried that the new top would be sporting a large cartoon chicken. As it was, we were spared the fowl, but in my view something slightly more embarrassing adorns the yellow jersey for the season ahead; a QR code.
I’ll hold my hands up. For a while I thought the QR code was slightly cool. I was wrong; I now just can’t see the point in them.
The Watford shirt is one example: when exactly is someone going to point a smartphone at the shirt to link to a website talking about eggs? Another all too often seen example of QR stupid: ones on adverts on underground trains. Without a mobile signal (ie when you are underground), what exactly is the point?
These days it’s even likely that the app you use to scan a QR code will be able to do optical character recognition so that a human-readable URL can be scanned and linked to as quickly as a machine-only-readable block of black and white squares.
So why do QR codes pop up so often, despite their seeming uselessness? My hunch is because they are free, and therefore can very cheaply add a touch of “tech” to an otherwise tech-free marketing campaign. Creating a QR code that links to a website is certainly a lot easier and cheaper than producing something like an app. The only problem is that these days those who might know what to do with a QR code are probably the least likely to actually do so…