26 Creative Ways to Use QR Codes
Today you can spot a QR code on almost any product: it’s popularity sprung with the spread of smartphones, that are able to read these 2-dimensional bar codes. To most they seem like a new thing, however the first QR codes were created back in 1994, in a Toyota subsidiary Denso Wave tin Japan. They were used to scan the car components at a high speed.
Since the QR codes provide effortless and quick access to a company’s website, it is now an important part of most innovative advertising campaigns. Even though we’re already used to seeing those binary black and white cubes on the corners of magazines or labels, QR codes provide yet more room for creation.
Check out our selection of some of the coolest ways to incorporate a QR code into a product!
1. Food: Guinness QR Cup
Guinness here shows a strong example of creative QR code use as well as consumer engagement. The Guinness QR Cup reveals the code only when filled with dark beer. Scanning the cup with your smartphone, “it tweets about your pint, updates your Facebook status, checks you in via Foursquare, downloads coupons and promotions, invites your friends to join, and even launches exclusive Guiness content.”
2. Food: Pizza Digitale
Scholz & Friends, one of the biggest advertising agencies in Europe, were looking for new member to join their digital creatives team. As the company says, „honey catches more flies than vinegar“ so they tried a creative and alluring recruiting campaign – Pizza Digitale – a special pizza, which was for four weeks added to every order from other major agencies‘ employees. The pizza was covered in tomato sauce, shaped like a QR-code, which directly links to information about job offers. The result – 12 job interviews and 2 new teams for the agencies‘ digital unit. (Website: s-f.com)
3. Food: QKies – Edible QR Code Cookies
QKies is a unique product created by German food trade company Juchem Gruppe and DFKI (the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence). They created cookies with edible QR codes that can be used for a wide variety of things – from party invitations to business cards. A box of QKie mix and 20 QR codes printed on edible paper cost 6,90 euros. Following all instructions you can bake cookies with QR codes and link them to any source you want (a Youtube video, a photo on Flickr, a webpage etc.). This is a cool and tasty way to surprise your friends or colleagues. (Order at: qkies.de)
4. Food: Qreo – QR Code From Oreos
Here is another good example of QR codes made from various foods, especially – cookies. Qreo is a QR code made from delicious Oreo cookies. It actually took 441 of them (and 35 more that magically disappeared during the process). The code linked to a mobile-centric landing page designed specifically for those, who came across the Qreo. In these you could answer the question “What do you love most about Oreo cookies?” or simply read others opinions.
5. Food: QR Code Cupcakes
These cuties embedded with working edible QR codes were created by Clevercupcakes, a bakery based in Montreal. Just think how much different information can be given through this simple innovation, especially in food sector – you can link users to recipes, shops, nutrition facts etc. (Website: theclevercupcakes.com)
6. Buildings: Futuristic QR Code Pavilion
Russia’s pavilion is already dubbed as the most popular at this year’s Venice Architecture Biennale and schocks visitors as the whole surface is covered with QR codes. The visitors are encouraged to enter the innovation city called Skolkovo – by scanning the QR codes they can learn more a bout the project. The actual Skolkovo, Russia’s futuristic city-in-planning will be located near Moscow by 2017 and bring together 500 companies working on IT, biomedical research, nuclear reserach and space technology plus a university and homes. (Website: sk.ru)
7. Buildings: Giant QR Code Painted On The Roof Of Facebook HQ
After moving to new headquarters in Menlo Park, Facebook employees were encouraged by Mark Zuckerberg to participate in “Space Hackathon” – making the new space feel like home. Every idea was welcome – tag the walls, hang posters etc. But Mark Pike took it seriously – he wanted to make the HQ visible from space, he wanted to hack the globe. So he did – Facebook employees got together and painted a 42 foot wide QR code on the rooftop. (Website: facebook.com/FBQRCode)
8. Fashion: QR U? Dress
This is just one example of QR codes used in clothing design, but I really liked its visual appearance and the deeper meaning resting in it. Designer Thorunn Arnadottir created this dress from Swarovski crystals for Icelandic pop star Kali from Steed Lord. As the artist says herself, she was “inspired by African beads and masks that use decorative symbols to communicate identity” and tried adapting it to our fully digitalised world with “online tribes”. By taking a picture the viewer will be directed to a number of links, including the band’s videos, music sites and an unique animation of the QR code itself. (Website: thorunndesign.com)
9. Fashion: QR Code Jacket
OK, this might not be anything similar to the high class fashion as in the example above, but is clearly worth mentioning in this post. At first I really thought this is one of those lousy cheap things you can buy at any market – like t-shirts with Spice Girls and so on. But it appears to be a new QR coded jacket by an international snowboard clothing supplier Brunotti. The code is supposed to link to a video with technical explanation of the jacket’s qualities. (Get yours at: brunotti.com)
10. Body: Advertise On Fred’s Arm – a QR Code Tattoo
The medium is the message – we all know the famous mantra by Marshall McLuhan. Fred Perry, a creative at the ad agency Leo Burnett Iberia, knows exactly what it’s like to actually become the medium. Fred decided to get a QR code tattoo and he programmed it to show anything he wanted – videos, photos, texts etc. When he showed it to his colleagues at Leo Burnett, a new media space was born – they created a campaign where any company could post bids on eBay and the highest bidder could won a month on Fred’s arm to advertise whatever he wants. (Website: leoburnett.es/fredsarm)
11. Body: QR Code Haircuts
Footballers are often known for setting the trends in men’s fashion. Just look at David Beckham – his haircuts are mimmicked by thousands of men. But would anyone go up fot this? QR code haircuts were done by Daniel Johnson, the personal hairstylist of Wayne Rooney. The players of Bromley FC, competing in the Football Association Challenge Cup, each got a custom QR code which linked to a Betfair page to bet on the game.
12. Outdoor: Shadow Powered QR Code
This is one of the smartest uses of QR codes I’ve seen in my life. Emart, a retailer from Seoul, started a campaign “Sunny Sale” to boost their sales during lunch time. The idea was to provide people a unique shopping experience only during lunch hours. They created a three-dimensional QR code which is only working when the sun is at its zenith – the shadows line up, allowing the code to be scanned. Once scanned, the code activated “Sunny Sale” promotion with discounts and coupons. New Emart membership increased by 58 percent, in-store sales increased by 25 percent and the coverage in the media was enormous.
13. Outdoor: QR Code Garden
This concept was created by landscape architects Shelley Mosco and Jade Goto for the Royal Horticultural Society Chelsea Flower Show and won the bronze medal for creative use of materials and innovative and experimental design concepts. When scanned, the code directs to a website with additional information about the garden itself, as well as list of plants that are recommended for individuals who would like to accomplish a similar result. (Website: qrcodegarden.co.uk)
14. Outdoor: QR Code On Ice
Climate change is a big issue and has been discussed many times. So how to create awareness on this (to most people) annoying issue? WWF used melting ice on the Amsterdam canals to illustrate the changes – in prime spots around the city, QR codes were transferred onto the ice. They linked to the WWF Netherlands website giving more information about the climate changes. There was no media spend, and there are no laws against printing on ice.
15. Outdoor: Sexier Than Skin QR Code Campaign
We all know that sex sells, and Victoria’s Secret wisely used this common sense for its “Sexier than skin” advertising campaign. While most people are bored from overly used QR used, I think most of them were enticed to scan this one – placed in the right position it pleases to be scanned in order to see the full image of a beautiful and sexy model… wearing Victoria’s Secret underwear.
16. Outdoor: Cobblestone QR Code
Portuguese recently gave a modern twist to the traditional style of their pedestrian walkway pavement, the calçada portuguesa. The first cobblestone QR code was placed in Chiado square in Lisbon, later they were constructed in Barcelona also. The QR code leads to content promoting Portugal and Lisbon. (Learn more at: turismodeportugal.pt)
17. Outdoor: QR Code Built From Sand
Cooking, tattooing, spraying, sewing… So why not sand-castleing? Japan’s design company Sinap gave it a try and made real human-sized QR code out of sand. This was just an experiment but after successful result the company teamed up with Nishihama Surf Lifesaving Club to help educate people about keeping the beaches clean and how they can participate. (Website: summer.sinap.jp)
18. Outdoor: QR Code Cornfield
This amazing cornfield maze QR code was created by Kraay family in their farm to promote their business. And it not only helped to get coverage in press, the Kraay family set a new world record for the largest QR code created. The total area takes 15 acres with QR code using 7. The code links to Kraay family website: kraayfamilyfarm.com
19. Art & Design: 3D QR Code Stool
German designer Elena Belmann has created a wooden stool and transferred the two dimensional QR code into 3D. The stool can be scanned from the top and it also serves as a mood light. (Website: elenabelmann.de)
20. Art & Design: QR Code Built From Everyday Objects
After launching a new website, David Sykes decided he needs a fresh way to tell people about it. He created an 8 foot square model of a QR code using real-life objects from his studio. According to David, “the QR code is the perfect example of something physical that links to the digital world, so I hit on the idea of building and shooting my own physical QR code.” What’s really cool is that that David sent out anonymous mails including only prints of the QR code with no other information. (Website: davidsykes.com)
21. Art & Design: Floppy Disk QR Code
Collaboration between generations is a beautiful thing. This was affirmed by Flavio Tossi and his grandmother who created a QR code patchwork from more than 800 floppy disks on a big 3×3 meter fabric. (Website: quellocreativo.blogspot.fi)
22. Art & Design: Rubik’s Cube QR Code
I admit - I have never completed a Rubik’s Cube, but I strongly believe I could do this. It’sa a big QR code made from Rubik’s cubes using only white and blue colors. This was done by Ape.IO, a startup founded from Singapore, to promote their first production, META Assassin. Exactly 49 Rubik’s cubes were used in making the first code while 121 cubes were used to make another bigger code.
23. Art & Design: QR Code Portrait
This QR code portrait by Scott Blake depicts Amy Goodman, a journalist and host of the independent news program Democracy Now! The portrait features 2,304 QR codes, all arranged perfectly according to their balance of light and dark to create a surprisingly detailed portrait of Goodman’s face. The codes link viewers to Democracy Now! videos. Scott has also created portraits from ecstasy pills, CD and book covers and so on. (Website: barcodeart.com)
24. Money: QR Code Coins
So QR codes can be found on many things, but on currency? Netherlands presented the first ever QR Code coin – a limited edition of coins were released by the Royal Dutch Mint to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Mint in Utrecht. The coins come in silver (5€ ) and gold (10€) and link you to this website: q5g.nl
25. Money: QR Code Coin Mosaic
SEB bank in Estonia now holds a Guinnes World Record for the biggest coin mosaic, made from 53,757 coins by 412 employees. Additionally, the mosaic contains a working QR code, made from two kinds of coins - 46,241 10-cent coins and 7,516 5-cent coins. The weight of the whole creation was 219 kg.
26. Other: QR Code Cows
Now this idea seems the craziest of all. Farmers in Somersby, UK, came up with an idea of marking their cows with spray-paint QR codes. Now they are only testing the idea and have only one QR coded cow, called Lady Shamrock. Jane Barnes and her husband Mark wanted to raise awareness about dairy farming. Scanning the cow with your smartphone will give you information of it’s milking time, favourite foods and how it’s cared for. (Website: thisisdairyfarming.com)