Happy Valentine’s Day peachy peeps! I have to climb up on my nerdy soapbox briefly, but also want to simultaneously help school you on some new-ish technology 🙂

During this year’s Super Bowl TV ad’s,  GoDaddy promoted QR codes throughout Danika Patrick’s cloud commercial. While this will help raise awareness about using QR codes to a large audience, the mobile site that was presented after scanning the code lacked some crucial elements to effective QR code campaigns: worthwhile information, clear instructions and rewards for those who take the time to scan the code. The same commercial is featured upon scanning that was featured in the TV spot and there is not a compelling call to action or any reason for visitors to take action such as a discount coupon, free VIP membership, etc.

For marketers & consumers, one of the most effective ways to jump from the mobile real world to the online virtual world is by scanning QR codes (Quick Response, also known as 2D barcode) with a smart phone. Although current usage is only 5% of Americans who own mobile phones (and those 14 million early adopters tended to be young, affluent and male), marketers are certain that this number will only continue to grow. Just last year users increased more than 800% from January to December.  As more and more people are being indoctrinated into the process of scanning codes to get more information, it’s our jobs as marketers to make that process as rewarding and easy as possible.

Traditional UPC barcodes can typically hold only 20 characters of numerical information, where as a QR Code can hold up to 7,089 alphanumeric characters. This means QR Codes can hold up to 350 times more data! The information held within a QR Code can only be unlocked through the use of a free QR Code Reader app on a smartphone. Whether you’re looking in the App Store, the Droid Marketor the Blackberry World Market, it won’t be difficult to find your preferred free QR Code Reader app; also, some smartphone manufacturers are designing their phones pre-equipped with QR Code Readers.

Decoding a QR Code is simple – it just takes two steps:
1. Open QR Code reader app on smart phone.
2. Point the camera phone at the QR Code.

QR Code Scanning Instructions
That’s it! The information held within the small black and white box is decoded and you haves access to whatever data is being shared (contact information, website URL’s, Google Maps, YouTube videos, Facebook “Like” buttons, Twitter “Follow” buttons, other Social Media and much more.)

QR codes are an important part of the mobile marketing toolbox, which needs to include text messages, apps, and a mobile site. They can provide tremendous value in print advertising and CPG packaging when used correctly. While some may argue that QR codes can be visually distracting from the design, there are ways to enhance the looks by including a logo or colorizing beyond basic black & white. Awareness is still growing and not everyone knows how they can benefit from them, so make sure you are adding a great user experience for those who make the effort to scan it.

Best uses of QR code campaigns worldwide:
– NYC Central Park: Last year, the New York City’s Central Park has launched a campaign called “The World Park”, using QR codes as a key motivator to re-invent the park experience. They wanted to attract and engage visitors by creating an outdoor mobile museum; letting people scan the series of free standing posters placed throughout the park to join an interactive board game related to the visitor’s exact location.

– Croatia Postage Stamp: QR Code postage stamp was issued for the 20th anniversary of the issuance of postal stamps by Croatian Post Hrvatske pošte, the national postal service of Croatia. Each of the 3.10 Kuna (0.56 U.S. dollars) stamps has a unique code printed below the QR Code. When you scan the QR Code you’re taken to a mobile site where the unique code can be entered and you can view confirmation on the receipt of your mail as well as additional data about its route. Users can find out when the mail was sent, how many kilometers it had traveled, when it reached its destination and more.

– Starbucks with Lady Gaga album release: Last year, the two global brands collaborated for an online and offline six-round scavenger hunt featuring prizes of GaGa’s music, Starbuck’s gift certificates and more, played by thousands of enthusiastic fans of both brands.

– Post’s Honey Bunches of Oats is adding them to more than 12 million boxes. The brand is banking on QR codes as the primary distribution vehicle for “Honey & Joy,” a web-based sitcom that premiered exclusively on Jesta Digital’s mobile-web platform BitBop. Katie Lay, Honey Bunches of Oats’ brand manager, cited research that showed the demand for QR-code experimentation outstripping the supply, particularly among the cereal’s target audience of women ages 25 to 54. The brand found that a third of its target is looking for the codes already.

Best practices when incorporating QR codes:
– Be creative, provide incentive, and be sure that you can track the metrics.
– The message must be clear; you need to make sure your target audience is intrigued and enticed to make them scan the code, creating more engagement with your brand via mobile devices. Make sure to give directions about what to do with your QR Code. “Scan this QR Code”, “Scan me with a QR Code reader app”, etc.
– On magazine print ads, place them in a position for easy photographing – not near the center fold of the page. A sweepstake competition entry or in-store prize redemptions can also be good ways to connect with your consumer via QR codes.
– A QR code should link to an immediate, relevant, valuable and especially mobile-optimized payoff. Once code scanned, if the final destinations’s content is not mobile optimized, this causes a very frustrating user experience.
– ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS test before promoting to the public.
– The best way to measure your ROI is to make sure you are adequately rewarding your consumer and making the effort to provide something really worthwhile.
– DON’T place codes in hard to scan places (fast-moving TV ad’s… reaction time to get your phone out and scan is too slow during a 15 or 30 second commercial, really tall billboards with codes too small to be recognized from the ground) or places where you can just use a regular hyperlink (websites, email signatures, within mobile app’s or mobile sites… how are you supposed to scan if you’re ON YOUR PHONE?) or places where you don’t have cell phone service (like subways signs… no service underground!)


As I’m fighting sleep trying to wait up on the year’s biggest meteor shower (dreading that 11 degrees chill outside!!!), I went though my nightly routine & opened up my Instagram app on my iPhone to find a surprise that solidified the gut feeling I’ve been having for over two months. Four hours ago, the Obama 2012 staff officially joined Instagram.

For several months now, I’ve been noticing more and more how major retailers and mass media players like the TODAY Show are adding Instagram to their social media marketing mix. At first, I thought this was a fabulous way to just share iPhone photos for free of things like  “behind the scenes” activities for the brands while socializing with the Instagram users. Everyone’s an artist, right? I also noticed the benefits of being able to Tweet photos by integrating Twitter accounts from the Instagram app – using popular hashtags to gain recognition and “be search-able” by Instagram users – or share to Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare… the list goes on. There’s also the geo-tagging feature which associates images with places.

The more I studied how popular users were gaining recognition, I really started paying attention to exactly what hashtags were being used… there are daily photo contests & numerous popular categories spanning things like #sunset , #smurfs , #snow , #Projectcupcake, #iPhoneonly , #instagood , #instagramhub … AGAIN, the list goes on and on and on. Besides “hashtaging the heck” out of their images (this is a direct quote from a client during a Twitter/Instagram tutorial I was conducting recently), people are also commenting on these photos within the app. Big deal, right? Yes, it is a big deal.

My point is this: Instagram allows people to share images they’ve applied photo filters to out to their social networks on other channels. However, people are doing this, plus NOT leaving the app to socialize. This fact makes the app the newest social network. Still unconvinced? Now onto to the surprise I saw earlier that caused me to slam my fist and scream “I KNEW IT!!” subsequently scaring my poor sleeping pup!

Partisan politics aside, Obama is said to have won the 2008 election due to being on the forefront of social media. He just joined Instagram 4 hours ago and this app has been popular for over a year at least. For the trendsetters, this app is old news. For marketers, this is definitely now the next social network to target. If his staff of social media experts have considered it powerful enough to get on board, then it’s here to stay.

Barack Obama Instagram Gallery

As advertising professionals, we are trained to go where the most people are paying attention… hence many years of Super Bowl television ad’s and in most recent years Facebook sponsored ad’s, for instance. Obama’s staff joining Instagram is an interesting move in their social media strategy for 2012, proving that this iPhone-only app is managing to keep people within it’s confines and is now a force to be reckoned with – so watch out Facebook!! My only word of caution to you is that is will SERIOUSLY drain your iPhone battery (as seen in the screenshot above!)

Bravo to the people over at Instagram. You’ve managed to combine the benefits of Twitter hashtags, Foursquare check-in’s, and Facebook commenting in a more robust mobile app than any existing social network. Too bad it’s only for iPhone and excludes other mobile devices. Even still, I’m eager to see how this continues to grow! Want to learn more about this phenom & how to get on board? Shoot me an email and we can set up a time to talk choosekristen@gmail.com

Sweet Stress Relief

When times get tough, I break out the canning supplies. Diving into a project that consumes my every thought has always helped me clear my mind of any worries or stress, so I highly recommend it! For those of you who feel intimidated, there’s always some kind of fresh produce year-round to work with, no matter where you live and shop for groceries. Also, the Sunday morning brunch taste tests are simply the best and make all the hard work worthwhile – I line up all the different flavors and try each with fresh breads, YUM!

Jams are best during the early summer when strawberries are the most sweet, followed by blueberries and peaches. Leave all the fruit & seeds once it cooks down for traditional spread or strain to make jelly. Pomegranates are ripe in early fall and their juice is super delish for jellies. Then once fall rolls around, granny smith “crock pot” apple butter is the most delicious I’ve ever made; however, recently I saw some new flavors that I’m very eager to attempt! Next up on my list are relishes & sauces… however the sweet potato butter sounds really interesting, too! Next summer I definitely want to make some fresh marinara sauce from heirloom tomatoes.

One last note, if you decide to jam while listening to reggae music just be warned that Bob Marley’s “Jammin” can get stuck in your head for weeks (which I don’t mind, but some might!). hahaha bluegrass is always better 🙂

Grateful Dead Holiday Almanac 2011

So why not give everyone you know these Grateful Dead Holiday 2011 gifts & have a holly, jolly, Deadhead holiday!  This photoshoot was the most low-budget-saturday-night-FUN shoots I think I’ve ever produced. The photog worked the lighting perfectly and the cast & crew really hustled to keep the party moving all night long, all while having a blast! BIG Thanks again to our Deadhead volunteers!!

After developing & sourcing merchandise for the 2011 holiday buy from local artisans, my participation revolved around the online merchandising, purchase orders & warehouse coordination and photo shoot direction/styling+occasional bounce or flash holder upper (3 studio shoots and 1 on location over 1 week) AND I even jumped on the piano for one of the last shots of the lookbook!!

As the Online Content Manager & member of the product development team for Dead.net, I also managed setting up the web front ecommerce store to sell the merch (wrote HTML product descriptions, coordinated XML files for shopping cart and set-up CMS details) and collaborated with front end developers to create the iPad and iPhone app. Hopefully sales will reflect all the hard work & really pay off for the band BIG TIME!

Top 5 GD songs iLike:

  • Sugar Magnolia
  • Scarlet Begonias
  • Touch of Grey (hey, I’m an 80’s child… pipe down)
  • Uncle John’s Band
  • Deep Elem Blues

Now that I’ve created a buzz with the dog-themed viral video… which of the two landing page concepts do you think looks best for my faux-client? Each color story in the photo-shoots & website design layouts convey Jewelry For All’s key brand elements: exploration, heritage, contemporary and happiness.


“A Walk in the Park”

Jewelry For All - Landing Page Concept #1


“Mood Indigo”

Jewelry For All - Landing Page Concept #1

This was a great exercise for me to follow the complete viral marketing loop and evaluate different customer experiences. I also took advantage of this opportunity to produce my own photos for the assignment – great practice! View the rest of my campaign photos on Flickr.

*This is for a school assignment.

Dog Loves Jewelry

I have only myself to blame. My dog just can’t get enough… jewelry. The fancier the better. Her expensive taste is all going to Jewelry For All, the ultimate online destination for the best jewelry for all occasions. Even the most everyday walks can feel special when she’s all dressed up in a new necklace.

This also helps me with the, “What’s HIS name” questions I always get – IT’S A GIRL DOG PEOPLE! There’s no mistaking she’s 100% girlie when she’s sporting a beaded necklace, right??

Watch her head out to shop for some jewelry in this video then vote on where she goes next in the comments below.


*This is for a school assignment.

Sorry the holidays came and went without any blog posts from me! I recently saw this viral video and thought it would make a good post anytime of the year. This is one of those events that keep popping up all over – the Flash Mob – where crowds of people spontaneously break into songs or choreographed dances in public places like outdoor shopping malls, food courts and more. This particular event was inside a mall food court. A piano player and group of people surprised everyone with an uplifting holiday song. The crowd’s reactions are priceless!