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5 Things Diageo Learned from QR Codes & Personalizable Whiskey Bottles (Video)


Maybe it was a cool idea that didn't quite crack the QR code.

Econsultancy is out with an interesting case study on five things beverage giant Diageo learned from using QR codes to personalize whiskey bottles as part of a Father's Day promotion last year.

The idea: Enable consumers to scan a QR code on the back of whiskey bottles that allowed them to customize a little film tribute to dear old Dad. When the bottle is presented as a Father's Day gift, Dad can scan the code to watch the film. IE, a one-size-fits all bottle becomes a personalized gift.

Indeed, the concept of turning offline products into online experiences and services is something I talk about at length in my book THE ON-DEMAND BRAND. But in this case, I think it was a nice concept that was undercut by the current state of technology and adoption.

Indeed, the brand isn't saying specifically how successful the effort was, but from the five things they learned about the initiative, one might assume the experiment provided just as many insights about what didn't work as did.

The first two lessons:

1. "Build it and they won't come": Things like this need to be promoted in other channels if you want people to act on it. Just hoping they discover it won't work.

2. "Keep it lightweight and effortless": Most brands overestimate how much information people are willing to give them do create digital engagement. And new forms of digital media need to be easy to understand and use - and "effortless to act upon."

One might guess that not many people tried this, let alone knew it existed. And while it's actually a fun idea - expecting someone to go to all the trouble to scan a label, personalize the video, and then hope Dad (who would sometimes be a grand dad in this scenario) is going to take out his smartphone, activate his QR code reader, and watch the video.

Hey, good luck with that.

Still, this a great idea that could really be interesting in a few years, through technology we probably haven't even thought of yet, that will truly make such experiences effortless.

Kudos to Diageo for the experiment.

I mean, brands using small scale trials to see how - or if - they'll work in order to learn how to better engage consumers?

I'll drink to that.

You can read about all five lessons here.

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