What if Brancott had got it right with their QR code?


QR codes attract a great deal of commentary in marketing and communication circles, and pretty critical more often than not.

I have a strong interest in QR codes, not so much about the technology of them: it’s far more about how marketers and others use them in their efforts to engage with consumers and others.

When I’m out and about, I keep an eye out for examples of how businesses use QR codes, looking for examples good and bad (hopefully, more of the former).

I encountered one today in my local Waitrose supermarket. Unfortunately, it’s one of the latter use examples, ie, a bad one.

New Zealand winery Brancott Estate has a QR code on their boxed Sauvignon blanc wine as the photo above illustrates.

Positioned next to a QR code at the top-right corner of the box, the words “What if you scanned this code?” caught my eye.

What if indeed, I thought, and duly took out my Samsung Galaxy SII smartphone, fired up the Barcode Scanner app for Android  devices and scanned the code.

So far, so good:


I chose ‘Open browser’ which does precisely that – opens the browser on the phone and loads the web page at the address the app found embedded in the QR code.

And what a disappointment:


What I got was Brancott Estate’s desktop website trying to show itself on my smartphone screen. That’s the point where my journey of discovery to find the answer to “What if…?” hit the buffers, smacked into the brick wall, got derailed by poor execution of potentially a good idea.

Even though the page in question is the legally-required one that purveyors of alcoholic beverages have to show you before you’re able to enter a website – and on which you have to declare your age before you can enter – does the legal requirement say anything about presenting the page in a way that’s totally unusable on mobile devices: usually the required device to take advantage of a QR code? I bet it doesn’t.

Setting aside any legal points, I’m also pretty sure that the last thing you would want to have happen is a shopper standing in the middle of a busy supermarket next to your attractive product display, wielding a smartphone and swiping the screen hither and thither to work out where on the web page the fields are you’ve got to type into and then find a submit button.

Good grief!

You have to do much better than this, Brancott marketers. You had an eye-catching and compelling call to action with your “What if…?” text – far better than the usual “Scan this QR code and…” that you tend to see – but your call to action failed on the execution.

You can’t blame the technology. So all I can say in answer to the question “What if you scanned this code?” is “I have no idea other than #FAIL.”

Imagine if you had got it right. What would I have discovered? What experiences might you have offered me? Could I then imagine wanting to sample your product – I love trying out new wines – and, so, actually buy one of these boxes?

We’ll never know, more’s the pity.

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