QR codes often get slated for being ugly and unpopular with consumers, but they still frequently crop up on ads and billboards so marketers must still see some potential in these little pixelated squares.

Often the problem with QR codes is that they are badly implemented, while it’s all too easy to find examples of codes that are impossible to scan.

However, when marketers take care over the user experience, the technology can be put to good use, with Toyota being a notable example.

Having previously highlighted six examples of QR code campaigns that actually worked I thought it would be worth trawling the internet to see if any new case studies had cropped up.

Unfortunately I was left disappointed, as there are very few new examples online and most of the case studies I found are several years old. 

Even so, here is a round up of five more examples of QR code campaign that proved to be a success. And if you know of any other decent case studies, please do flag them up in the comments section.

Verizon Wireless

This one dates all the way back to 2010 when Verizon teamed up with ScanLife to promote the array of apps available on its DROID devices.

QR codes were displayed across print ads, in-store displays, direct mail and even websites and iPad ads, linking users to a specific app on the Android Market for download or a mobile site that displayed some of the top apps.

People scanning the code with a different type of smartphone were directed to a mobile site that explained the benefits of DROID and the type of apps available.

In just over three months the campaign received more than 150,000 scans, however at the time it was ScanLife’s most successful campaign so other brands shouldn’t necessarily expect the same results. Also, there are no details of conversions arising from those scans.

The campaign’s success was attributed to having an integrated campaign across multiple offline and online channels.

Turkish Airlines

During the London Olympics Turkish Airlines used QR codes to create a scavenger hunt around the city’s bus stops. 

The ‘QR Flags’ initiative required people to scan a series of codes as they travelled around London in order to win various prizes.

In order to encourage people to keep searching, the airline also set up a mobile site so that users could see the nearest QR flag location as well as their personal check-in data. 

Overall the campaign drove 20,000 referrals, with visitors spending an average of one minute on the mobile site. According to inMobi this dwell time is above the norm for 75% of industries.

Taco Bell

As part of Taco Bell’s ESPN College Football promotion around the Bowl Championship Series, the fast food chain printed QR codes on taco boxes and drinks cups between December 20 and February 3 this year.

The codes linked to analyst Mark May previewing upcoming games, so it’s likely that the interest dropped off following the National Championship Game on January 7.

Even so, the codes generated more than 225,000 scans which is an impressive level of engagement.

Verizon (again) achieves 200% sales increase

For this campaign Verizon displayed QR codes in-store that allowed customers to enter a promotion to win a smartphone.

Customers had to share a Verizon ad on Facebook and if one of their friends bought a phone then the original customer would be given a free mobile.

During the week that the promotion was running Verizon received an additional $35,000 in sales from an investment of just $1,000.

It seems the combination of a social element and a direct sales tactic were key ingredients in a successful campaign.


Another case study dating back to 2011, video game developer THQ hid ten QR codes within its Homefront game that allowed players to unlock exclusive videos and wallpapers.

The codes were scanned 30,000 times within the first two days, and it soon clocked up 30,000 wallpaper downloads and 18,000 video views. 

This is obviously a unique case as the codes unlocked material that enhanced the game rather than acting as a marketing tool. For example, one of the codes played a governmental emergency broadcast video explaining a national flu epidemic, while another code placed in an extremist’s garage linked to a propaganda music video.

But while this isn’t a marketing example, it is a very creative use of QR codes and shows that people are willing to scan them for the right incentive.

David Moth

Published 3 September, 2013 by David Moth

David Moth is Editor and Head of Social at Econsultancy. You can follow him on Twitter or connect via LinkedIn

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Comments (5)


Bryson Meunier

David, thanks for publishing some of the successes marketers have seen with QR codes, as too often our judgment has been clouded by those who use them incorrectly and fail. I pointed out some of these same successes in my most recent Marketing Land column (http://marketingland.com/qr-codes-work-when-done-well-56243). Though you might not have been able to find more success stories online, data from Adobe and Experian Hitwise suggests that marketing failures from QR codes are less common, as most marketers rated them effective or very effective when asked. It's unfortunate that these successes aren't mentioned as often as the failures, given that they are more common.

almost 5 years ago



Another successful case is the 3D qrcode Emart Sunny Sale Campaign.That was placed across the city and could only be scanned during the hours of 12 and 1 each day, due to the sunlight casting a shadow to complete the QR code. Anybody who did scan the code was given a special discount code with 25% off that could be redeemed in store or through their mobile e commerce site. Emart have seen a great increase in sales during the lunchtime period and have doubled the number of locations for this promotion. This is a very smart way to effectively use ( barcode) technology to drive sales.

almost 5 years ago

Keith Horwood

Keith Horwood, Head of Performance Marketing at CoinDesk Ltd

Another use for QR codes is digital currencies and mobile payments. Probably where QR codes are now used the most. Displaing a public key using QR and scanning via mobile is very simple for transferring payments.

Example - http://www.coindesk.com/bitcoin-pool-table-raspberry-pi/

almost 5 years ago


Matjaz Kofol

QR codes work well with almost any physical product.
See creative case how Pinnacle Vodka turn QR code into a great success. http://esp.to/wzaQ6f

almost 5 years ago



Though only on a small scale I have used designer qr codes successfully for a customer of mine on his van, directing people to his prices, on a mobile friendly site of course!

almost 5 years ago

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