Codes as a new way of communicating with the customer

Caroline Zöller

Published on 08.03.2020

A New York brewery is using QR codes as a playful way for consumers to interact with its products.

QR (quick response) codes are a Japanese invention from the 90s. Based on a two-dimensional code, the process also has automatic error correction capability, making it highly reliable. Thanks to these qualities, QR codes have managed to establish themselves in many different industries. Originally, the code was primarily used to simplify the logistics of dealing with components and subassemblies. Since mobile phones have become increasingly widespread as readers, the square matrix has started to turn up in all sorts of different areas. In fact, these days, consumers expect to find so many more things than just a company website behind the little black matrix.

The New York beer manufacturer Single Cut has pimped the little black square so that it grabs attention more readily. It transformed the black pixels into a colourful image for an advertising campaign. By using a mix of street art, graffiti and pop art, the brewery packaged four riddles in a colourful visual language. Under the title “Big in Japan”, the brewery added a new code to the tin as a tribute to western rock legends who also reached a large audience in the Far East. The cartoon-like QR codes contain references to the title of a particular rock song.

A cherry and a bomb, five women’s heads, iconic corsets and high boots in the context of the 80s Tokyo rock scene – not an easy riddle to solve. If you are unable to solve the riddle, you can follow the QR code and it brings you to the Runaways and their song Cherry Bomb.

The campaign was the inspiration of the Toronto-based advertising  agency Zulu Alpha Kilo (ZAK), which would like to open new doors for Single Cut in the field of brand communication. In accordance with the zeitgeist, the consumer should interact with the product, generating a synchronicity between drinking enjoyment and the soundtrack. The coloured codes invite you to get involved with the product without too much effort and reward users with a catchy tune.

In this way, the new aesthetics of the QR code help connect consumers with virtual space in a modern way. The game with the codes whets consumers’ appetite for the product and also opens up new communication channels with them.