To promote the launch of its new drama series, The Border, CBC is appealing to cellphone users with a contest involving QR codes.
Forty-eight different QR (quick response) codes have been placed on wild posting in cities across Canada. They can be photographed using most camera phones and sent to a special number. The photographer will then receive instructions and a password that enters them in a contest to win one of five $1,000 gift certificates from Best Buy. In keeping with the theme of the showborder security and international terrorismeach code represents a border crossing between Canada and the U.S.
“Not only is it a cool thing for the audience to do, but it allows CBC to be first-to-market with this,” says Thom Ryder, the CBC executive overseeing the contest. While QR codes have seen limited local use in Canada, the CBC contest is believed to be the first time the codes have been used in a national campaign.
Some codes are only available in the city they represent. By tracking which codes are being sent, CBC can measure the contest’s traction in various markets, says Ryder.
“If someone from Toronto submits one from Whitehorse, we’ll know they’re spreading virally,” he says. A QR code is also being flashed as a teaser for five seconds on TV spots promoting the show on CBC.
QR codes are often used in other parts of the world, where mobile phone technologies are more widely adopted by consumers than in North America.
Western markets have been slower to adopt the codes, as many North American cellphones lack the technology to use them fully. In Japan, for example, photographing a code can automatically connect a phone’s browser to a website or download a file. For CBC’s contest, the code must be sent by the users themselves via a multimedia messaging service (MMS) message.
The contest runs until Jan. 23. The first episode of The Border airs Jan. 7.