A week back I had tweeted, ‘Do Personal QR codes exist in India? Looks like a great idea for brands, why isn’t it popular? http://bit.ly/ahlnWI (Link)

I got quite a few responses and I was happy that they indeed exist. In fact, Mid Day, one of India’s leading tabloids is the first Indian print publication to use them!

FordFigoGiven that context, I was happy to see a QR code in the print ad for Ford’s new hatchback, Figo. It first appeared in the half-page ad in The Hindu, on Saturday…and today, in The Times of India.

Naturally, I was curious to try it out. I did as instructed and the resultant text message said, “Thank you. Visit http://www.blufi.mobi/fordfigo from your GPRS enabled phone to download & install application. Further instructions in the Ford Figo ad.”

Now, it so happened that the default URL select in my BlackBerry selected only http://www.blufi.mob, without even the ‘i’, so I naturally missed the ‘/fordfigo’ part and went to ‘http://www.blufi.mob’ first and then, when faced with a blank page, added the ‘i’ and went to the actual site.

BlufiThat ‘site’ is merely an index with folders for many other QR clients of the application, I can only presume. Other ‘clients’ include Gateway, Accenture, Barista, Disney, IBM and Nike, among many others.

I guess ‘exposing’ these clients is an interesting PR tactic by the QR  app vendor, but I do hope this was unintended. And, it was avoidable too.

Going back to the application (finally heading to the actual URL by copying it fully and pasting it in the browser address bar on my phone), I managed to finally install the app. Once I ran the app, it threw an exception cryptically worded, ‘Uncaught exception: no application instance’.

But, being a patient man, I went to my ‘downloads’ folder and ran the application from there. Now, things were thankfully working – I was asked to point to the ad’s QR code pic – I did. I was asked to click – I clicked.

After a few seconds of ‘loading’, I was played a small 3gp video of the Ford Figo ad.

That’s it?? Did I go through all this just for viewing an ad on my phone?

C’mon, I’m sure we could do better than this! Ford Figo has a Twitter page with 600+ followers and a Facebook fan page with 1,800+ fans (as of writing this post). Why couldn’t the QR load the Facebook URL and take me to the fan page? I can see what others think about the car, over and above what Ford’s ad agency wants me to think, in the print ad.

But, gripes aside, hats off to Ford for at least trying this before any other brand in India.

Together with the FB ad link in Basics Life print ad (that I had posted yesterday), this is indeed a brave new start in adding interactivity to otherwise-static print ads!In a way, the QR code bridges the gap between a print ad and an interactive destination. For instance, if the intention is to bring audiences to another place from the print ad, the QR code can enable that without expecting the user to head to the nearest PC/ notebook and just do it almost instantly, by using his/ her phone’s camera.

I suppose what we do with the power of interactivity is more important than adding interactivity in the first place, like this Ford Figo ad demonstrates.