What’s New in QR Codes Around Toronto

QR Codes
The debate over QR code usage rages on, depending on who you read they are denounced as a wasted effort or a revolution in marketing. The fact is they are neither. QR codes are simply a trigger to activate a mobile experience, and most marketing efforts are not taking advantage of that fact. They are simply slapping them on ads and posters and directing users to their standard website (or social profiles) with little explanation or added value. This lack of understanding the mobile experience will not bode well when newer mobile trigger technologies such as NFC, image recognition or geofencing become common.

From top left: here are six examples of QR codes that have been spotted in the Toronto area during the past couple of weeks.

Z-teca Burritos

  • Location: The front counter where customers order. This may be a great spot to highlight the special, but not for someone to hold up the line while scanning the code.
  • Call to action: None. The QR code is located right next to ‘Add a Bottle of Water’ special. The person with me had assumed the code had something to do with special.
  • Mobile friendly destination: Yes, resolves to Z-teca’s mobile site with links to Facebook and Twitter.
  • QR code provider: QRT7
  • Review: It seems unnecessary, there’s no specific motivation or instructions to scan this link.


  • Location: Poster on Go Train
  • Call to action: Check here for specials
  • Mobile friendly destination: Sort of. The scan resolves to web page featuring the current special, but it’s not optimized for mobile.
  • QR code provider: Undetermined
  • Review: It does link to a current special. The call to action needs to be stronger, such as “Scan this code for today’s specials”.


  • Location: Large Poster near the event and the cover of the festival Brochure
  • Call to action: Download the Luminato mobile app. With a URL to download Scanlife app.
  • Mobile friendly destination: Yes, with a one tap link to the iPhone App store.
  • QR code provider: ScanLife
  • Review: This is a good use of a QR Code, providing festival attendees with quick access to their mobile app.

Courvoisier Collective

  • Location: TTC Transit Shelter
  • Call to action: None, but customized code seems at least 3 feet square and dominates the creative
  • Mobile friendly destination: No, the link resolves to the standard web site for the Courvoisier Collective project.
  • QR code provider: Undetermined
  • Review: This should have linked to a mobile friendly html page. The standard page takes too long to load, and when it does the user has to spend too much time finding their way around for any information.

Honda Indy Toronto

  • Location: Poster on GO Train
  • Call to action: Scan for more info
  • Mobile friendly destination: No, but it does at least go directly to the Events page.
  • QR code provider: Undetermined
  • Review: This was the most disappointing of the 6. The Honda Indy will be attended by tens of thousands of race fans all armed with mobile phones. There really should be a mobile-friendly experience available before, during and after the event.

Ontario Beer Week

  • Location: Beer coaster included in Beau’s beer packaging
  • Call to action: Nothing specific to the scan. The copy reads ‘Discover the Difference’ and then lists the ocbweek.ca URL
  • Mobile friendly destination: Yes, resolves to a mobile page with links to Facebook events, YouTube channel, Twitter feed and Foursquare. (Foursquare link didn’t work for me)
  • QR code provider: Undetermined
  • Review: My expectations were low, so I wasn’t disappointed when all I saw was links to their social sites, including a helpful list of events on their Facebook page. At least the beer was good.

Have you seen any great or ‘not so great’ examples of QR codes in your daily travels.

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