50 Creative Uses of QR Codes

QR codes are fast becoming a powerful force in marketing, acting as a connector between the physical world and the web. People see a QR code, scan it, and are suddenly engaged in QR Codesyour message (when you do it right.)

There are plenty of creative ideas for how businesses, non-profits and municipalities can use QR codes to market and communicate themselves better to their shareholders. Here are 50 that we came up with or stumbled upon.

    1. QR Codes on bus stops, train stations and subway stations: A quick scan would give you real time information on when the next bus, train or subway would arrive.
    2. Posted next to paintings and sculptures at museums. Great for visitors who want to learn more about the artist, the time period, and the reaction to the photo. Could also include links to other work by the artist, related artists, and even the ability to buy the image on a mug or poster at the museum shop.
    3. As part of a personalized direct mail piece. Each QR code can go to a PURL (personalized URL (Uniform Resource Locator)).
    4. On historical sites and on walking trails. Sure, a plaque is fine for grandma, but delve deeper, whether with a Wikipedia entry, or an video of a local historian explaining the significance of the site.
    5. QR CODESAt video kiosks. QR codes can appear as people interact with your kiosk, whether it’s at the mall or your place of business.
    6. On For Sale signs. Whether residential or commercial, for sale signs could include codes that had all the information a sell sheet includes, plus a video walk through.
    7. Email newsletter sign ups. Build your subscriber base by having quick links to an email sign up box.
    8. E-learning. Have your QR codes generate an email that starts an auto responder, sending daily emails filled with lessons and related information.
    9. Next to packaged food in groceries. Give shoppers quick access to recipes that include the ingredients they see on the shelf.
    10. In a jigsaw puzzle. This would create some real engagement as the user would have to put together the puzzle before scanning the image.
    11. On produce. You could include information about the farm, organic vs. conventional growing, best by dates, etc.
    12. QR Code Ring


      On jewelry.
    13. Buying coffee (or anything else.)Like Starbucks does.
    14. On bottles of wine. It would be nice to be able to get info about the vineyard, and maybe buy a case of that bottle you enjoyed at the restaurant.
    15. On tags for sustainable clothes. Is that piece of clothing really sustainable? Let’s quickly scan and see it’s story.
    16. For conference signage. Next to the name of the upcoming sessions in each room would be the QR code so you could get the full description, speaker bios, and see if there’s any room left.

“QR codes can appear as people interact with your kiosk”

    1. On conference name tags. SXSW has been doing this for at least a year or two. Why trade business cards when you can just scan QR codes. Now, don’t you feel all TSA?
    2. As part of interactive maps. Check out this example from Town Graphics.
    3. At the bottom of all newspaper and magazine articles. Then you could quickly get to the online version and see the comments that other readers had left.
    4. On liquor bottles. Linked to drink recipes; this would be especially good for new drinks you’re bringing to market.
    5. QR CODESOn building permits. New York City is already doing this.
    6. On the fliers that you find under your windshield wipers at the mall. One example might be an offer for a car wash; the URL would give you the discount code and directions to the car wash offering the deal.
    7. On the safety bar ads on ski mountain chair lifts. These days, everyone on the mountain seems to have a smart phone, and they’re going to be a captive audience for 5 – 10 minutes, sitting on that chair going up the mountain.

“Imprint QR codes on the beach…until the tide comes in”

    1. Inside elevators. If you ran a dry cleaning service or something else that helped busy executives out, advertise inside elevators in tall buildings. Other good options might include flowers (for spouses left at home with the kids), discounts on take out food, etc.
    2. In bar bathrooms. There are Home Runners and cab companies advertising above the urinals in bars. Why not make it easier for patrons to get a safe ride home, rather than drunk dial a wrong number?
    3. QR CODESWithin a video game console to share avatars. Nintendo is already doing just that.
    4. To get more people to sign a petition. Like the one for cleaning up the BP mess.
    5. At bars, clubs and anywhere else music is playing. Sure, Shazam is a great tool for finding music, and often you can even buy the track you discovered at iTunes or Amazon. But in a loud club you may not be able to suss out the song. If a QR code appeared above the DJ’s head, you could quickly scan the code and purchase that new song.
    6. On the backs of tractor trailers. Because “How’s My Driving?” with an 800 number is so last decade.
    7. On wedding invitations instead of RSVP cards. Scan a QR, save a tree. And a stamp.
    8. As a temporary tattoo. Link it to your Facebook profile or Twitter account.
    9. On a laminated card for trade shows. Instead of dropping a business card in a fish bowl. Booths win because they’ll get all the pertinent info, and the event could give away prizes to the people who get scanned the most.
    10. To encourage community feedback. The library in Groton, CT, does just that.
    11. QR CODESAs wallpaper.  What!??
    12. On the bottom of flip flops. The imprint they make on the beach…until the tide comes in.
    13. On coffee cups from your local coffee shop. Plenty of advertising opportunities here.
    14. On posters linking to free books. 1st Bank is giving away free copies…of these out-of-copyrighted classics. They also have other boards that link to free sudoku.
    15. On a ball field. Have you seen what the groundskeepers can mow into the outfield these days? They’re artists!
    16. On a human billboard. Think “Eat at Joes.”

“QR codes take you to a preview of a movie”

  1. As wrapping paper. One company is already customizing this with unique videos attached to QR codes.
  2. On trade show booths. Scan a picture, (be entered to) win a free iPod.
  3. On recipes in magazines. Quick link to videos, reviews and feedback at the website.
  4. For self-guided tours at factories. Scan a code, learn what that doohickey does.
  5. Posted on car windows in dealerships. Perfect for after-hour shoppers.
  6. Written in calamari ink on diners’ plates. You can’t make this stuff up.
  7. Scratch and Win cards. It’s not enough to have them scratch off the card, make them scan that card to see if they’ve won.
  8. On movie posters. QR code takes them to a preview of the movie.
  9. On cocktail napkins. The code could take those working the room  to the sponsor’s site, the beverage’s site, or some networking site with photos, so you can connect with people after the event.
  10. In TV ads to make them interactive. Here’s an example from AXA.
  11. Business cards. ‘Nuff said.

Sure this is just the beginning. If you’ve got a great idea for using QR codes for marketing or communications, or if you’ve seen something in the wild, please feel free to share it below.