Sure you know what a QR code is. But do our buyers?

Recognize that squiggly little square to the right, which has sometimes been referred to as “robot vomit”?  Its technical name is QR code, or “Quick Response” code.  It’s a fancy, densely filled bar code, capable of holding more info than older scannable symbols.

And they are all the rage.

Ok, well, that’s not exactly true.  They are more the rage in other countries, actually, and are slowly coming to life in this country (which reminds me of SMS marketing, which was also more of a marketing phenomenon and never took hold here).

But they are everywhere.

The question is . . . should they be?

We went into Times Square and polled 100 Theatergoers at the TKTS booth and asked them three questions:

  1. Do you know what a QR code is?
  2. Have you ever used one?
  3. Have you ever used one for a show or anything theater-related?

The answers?

80% of those polled did not know what a QR code was.

Of the 20% that did know what a QR code was, only 35% had actually used one.

And . . .

Drum roll, please . . .

ZERO of the theatergoers polled had ever used one for a show or anything theater-related.

Probably not that shocking if you thought about it for a moment.

So does this mean you shouldn’t have QR codes on your advertising materials?  Not necessarily, because I do think it’s important to keep pace with other industries.  It does mean, however, that you shouldn’t put a lot of time and resources behind coming up with the fanciest of all e-destinations for your QR users (of which there will be most likely zero) to land.

In fact, our use of the QR code on Godspell wasn’t ever designed for the user of the code.  It was designed as a visual marketing tool for the show.  By incorporating “cutting-edge” image of robot-vomit technology on our display ads, we’re able to subtly imply that our classic revival that was written 40 years ago is up-to-date, and cutting-edge on its own.

Believe me, I’m the biggest advocate of new technology I know . . . but because of that I have to be even more careful about falling in love with the coolest new tech toy on the block and you should too.

Just because you love it, doesn’t mean your customers do.

In fact, you are all tech guys/dolls, right?  Let’s take a poll right here.  How many of you have used a QR code?


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Ken created one of the first Broadway podcasts, recording over 250 episodes over 7 years. It features interviews with A-listers in the theater about how they “made it”, including 2 Pulitzer Prize Winners, 7 Academy Award Winners and 76 Tony Award winners. Notable guests include Pasek & Paul, Kenny Leon, Lynn Ahrens and more.