Miller Lite Demonstrates How Not To Use QR Codes, Run Contests, Or… Effectively Market At All

I received my SXSW World magazine today. After turning a few pages, I saw a Miller Lite ad prominently featuring a QR code. I was pretty excited to scan the code. That excitement was quickly replaced by disappointment.

Miller Lite’s marketers really failed at this one. Why? Oh, let me count the ways:

Beer for the People SXSW Ad

  • QR code with no description. There’s the code, front and center. But why is it there? What is my incentive to scan it? Oh, I see… if you read the small print on the bottom right, four sentences in it tells me that the QR code will take me to a website to enter a contest.
  • What contest? I assume it has something to do with beer, or SXSW. Well, that’s not explained when you complete your entry form. You have absolutely no idea why you’re filling out the form.
  • I can’t even enter! After finishing most of the form, I realize there are only five states to choose from on the list, mine not one of them. Turns out, this contest is open only to residents of AR, MS, NM, OK, or TX. I must ask the question, then – why was this ad placed in a magazine with national and international reach? A full-page ad that isn’t applicable to most of the magazine’s subscribers perplexes me.
  • Contest prizes. Now that I know I’m not eligible to win, I want to know what I’m missing out on. I took the time to look up the official rules. Turns out, the grand prize is admission to various SXSW events. 2012 events. Who gets this magazine? Current and past SXSW attendees, mostly. People that are most likely to have already paid for a non-refundable badge.
  • Inconsistent contest rules. The print ad says the contest runs through March 18. That’s not very helpful, since the event they’re giving tickets away to ends that day as well. The online rules say the contest ends February 28. Which is it?
  • Extreme unlikelihood of prize redemption. If you win admission to a multi-day event approximately a week before it starts, are you even likely to use the prize? As I read the rules further, I learned that the prizes don’t include airfare or lodging. Airfare a week in advance is ridiculous. Lodging for SXSW events has been sold out for months. Who would be able to use this prize, other than someone who already lives in Austin?
  • Poor URL usage. I really should stop picking on this ad, but even the URL bugged me. The name of the campaign is “Beer for the People.” I get it, Miller Lite is cheap and accessible (and not very good, if you ask me). But, the website for the contest is Why throw the word “the” into the URL? You’re making someone read the fine print to figure out how to access your contest. The URL appears available, so it’s not like they couldn’t get it. Actually, I’d like to suggest that Miller Lite get this URL right now, and build it into something useful prior to SXSW, where I’m sure I’ll see more of this advertising.

It appears this is a repeat ad campaign and contest from last year. That’s one more reason it should be done correctly.

I’m also perplexed by the need for a third-party vendor to provide the QR codes for the campaign (see press release in prior campaign link). People actually get paid to make QR codes?

Do you think this is a good ad campaign? Someone must have, because they decided to duplicate it for 2012. If you think it’s great, I’d love to hear why in the comments. Enlighten me.

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5 Comments on “Miller Lite Demonstrates How Not To Use QR Codes, Run Contests, Or… Effectively Market At All

  1. As we see more and more of these QR codes because they’re the “new hot thing” I think it’s something we need to bring up more. Mostly because I fear #highered will be soon be infected with all sorts of slapdash QR code mania. Not from “those in the know” but from folks who just see and do.

  2. This is why QR codes have ultimately failed…poor execution from A to Z. For every well-done, well-implemented piece of collateral with QR codes, there are scores of poorly created campaigns with QR codes.

  3. Pingback: Miller Lite Demonstrates How Not To Use QR Codes, Run Contests, Or… Effectively Market At All - Portfolio and Blog

  4. Unfortunately, more and more people want to go to these. Our VP of Student Affairs is really interested in seeing them but I don’t know how much she uses them herself. I was asked to speak about social media and QR codes to the entire division last week. I stressed you need to make sure you are delivering the content and not overdue it. I am not sure exactly how other departments are using them but our Student Activities board uses them already. They put them on the back of Tshirts and on their poster, however, the sizes are pretty big (the shirt ones are about 6×6 inches and the poster ones are 18×18 inches). Jamba juice has a good one, its in the shape of a strawberry and tells you “scan to sign up for exclusive offers.”

    We used them recently for our satisfaction surveys. It was our Director’s idea but he wasn’t sure how to implement it, so I created this: Tried to make sure it was not huge but it was listing what it was.

  5. Pingback: Miller Lite Demonstrates How Not To Use QR Codes, Run Contests … « QR Code Fun

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