Friday, November 04, 2011

MediaPost Publications Applebee's Cracks QR Code, Spreads Word-Of-Cat-Mouth 11/03/2011

What is a business person to do when she is sitting in a restaurant booth waiting for her lunch order... after checking email, Facebook and a weather app on her smartphone, that is? Well, there's a good chance there will be a tent card on her table with a QR code superimposed on a cat's mouth. Might as well snap that and see where it leads. And the payoff is a full screen video of a talking cat mouth you can fit over the tent card or your own mouth to kill those 14 minutes or less in which the chain restaurant guarantees delivery on select items. At 89 Applebee's restaurants, owned by franchisee Thomas and King, that simple use case has already driven more than 62,000 activations since a set of QR-encoded table tents appeared in July.

"It is very impressive," says Christy Metcalf, senior vice president-marketing at Thomas and King, the third largest franchisee for Applebee's, noting, "QR codes have not gained a lot of traction."

She and Lexington, Kentucky-based marketing agency Cornett had surveyed the market and found Kellogg's crowing about having gotten 40,000 scans off of ubiquitous Crunchy Nut Cereal boxes. In contrast, "we had 89 locations and got over 30,000 scans [the first month]."

The key insight in making this QR campaign work was to emphasize entertainment value, not the usual promotions, says David Coomer, Chief Creative Officer, Cornett.

"Everyone is asking what should we do with QR codes. I don't think we have had a single client who hasn't asked about it."

But exactly what to do with a code didn't really dawn on his creative team until they started observing themselves sitting at a restaurant waiting for lunch one day.

"Everyone pulls their phone out. So we thought that since there are so many pieces of material already on the table why not make them interactive and add a level of entertainment."

Apparently now they have thousands of people in restaurants snapping QR codes and holding TableCat animations over their mouths to entertain one another during the wait.

MediaPost Publications Applebee's Cracks QR Code, Spreads Word-Of-Cat-Mouth 11/03/2011

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