The Genuine ScLoHo aka Scott Howard

Idiotic QR Coding

January 19, 2012 ScLoHo's Web World 7

Last year I was traveling from Fort Wayne to Indianapolis and somewhere along Interstate 69 there was a billboard with a QR code on it.  Sort of hard to scan when you’re not expecting it and zipping along at 70 miles an hour.

I have no idea who the billboard was advertising.

But recently I noticed this sign:

This was in Fort Wayne, Indiana on Clinton Ave, looking south from Coliseum Blvd.

I decided to pull over and check this out:

This is beyond Idiotic QR Coding.

There are so many things wrong.

The sign does not tell you what to do with the strange black & white design.

(Not everyone is aware of QR codes.)

It is unclear who the sign is for.

In order for me to scan a QR code, it is going to take me a few seconds to pull up the scanner app on my phone, followed by a few seconds to focus my phone scanner on the giant QR code.

I’ve seen this billboard a few other places around town and they all are placed on the wrong side of the intersection.

The sign is across the street from me when I am waiting at a red light and is too far away.

When the QR code is scanable from your car, your car is moving.

Basically it is impossible for anyone to scan this QR code unless they stop their car in a parking lot and waste 5 minutes of their life to see what happens if they use the QR code reader app on their smartphone.

What really burns my britches is this billboard and all the others like it are being funded by my tax dollars.

Your tax dollars too.

The QR code on those signs take you to an Air Force Reserve Blog.  The only positive thing I can say is that it is optimized for mobile.

But the blog is stupid, but that’s another topic for another day.

This is probably a national campaign, and the sales guy at the billboard company didn’t have any say in the “creative design” of the sign, they just took the order and our tax dollars and made a fool out of QR Codes.

Whoever is the brains behind this needs to be fired.

Scott Howard aka ScLoHo has 25+ years of experience in marketing , advertising, media and works directly in the radio and digital world from Fort Wayne, Indiana.  Contact him at or 260.255.4357.


7 Responses

  1. A Google image search led me here – and I saw a similar Billboard driving through Chattanooga, TN yesterday, at highway speed. In my opinion this is useless advertising and the monies would have been better spent on a different billboard or elsewhere, altogether. The larger issue is the message this “message” sends – snap this QR while driving your car when focus should be on more important things. Media Buyers, Planners and Marketing leadership for the AF Reserves missed the boat on this one!

  2. Michellebturner says:


    Thank you for writing this post.  I spotted this same billboard on my way home from work yesterday.  I was surprised and slightly amused…until I passed it again and saw what organization it was advertising.  As a marketing professional, I know the value of a QR code, but I would never be so foolish to place it where it would be of minimal use and even worse, place it where it could quite possibly endanger those in my target market and those around them.  This evening, I contacted the Air Force Reserve and expressed my concern.  Tomorrow, I will contact the billboard company and my local officials.  I encourage you to do the same.

    Michelle Turner

    • Thanks Michelle.  I have seen this sign hanging at more than one location in Fort Wayne and I wonder how many locations nationwide…..

      Please let us know what type of response you receive when you make your contacts.

  3. Guest says:

    I agree and disagree with you on this. I would say that for the most part, that the generation of people they are trying to reach they have done a great job. Air Force Reserve recruiters are looking for younger men and women, and I believe that generation is well aware of QR codes. It is a game to them. Anyone over the age of 25 though…that is where this is a bit ridiculous! 

    • They may be aware of QR Codes, but I doubt they’ll go out of their way to pull over to the side of the road and scan the QR code.

      Which is why this is an idiotic waste of your money and mine.

      I do appreciate your comment however…

    • My experience has been that age is not a factor with regards to knowledge of what to do when you see a QR code.  But my reason for calling this idiotic has to do with the placement on a billboard that is unscanable unless you stop your car.

      I have a marketing, branding and advertising background and this violates all common sense in all 3 of those areas for the sake of being “hip”?

      No thanks. 

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