VIBE pioneers marketing tool

Radio station’s re-launch uses bar codes in promotional campaign

The re-launch of Caribbean radio station VIBE has seen the first wider use of bar codes as part of a promotional campaign in the Cayman Islands.

Bar codes in advertising allow users to point their mobile devices at the black-and-white box to have information and offers sent to their phones or direct them to websites.

The so-called QR codes, or quick response codes, were first introduced by a Japanese car manufacturer to track vehicle parts, but with the advent of smart phones, their usage evolved into mobile tagging, the decoding of bar codes in other aspects of life.

Campaign manager for VIBE Patrice Beersingh said the promotion is about connecting and interacting with the public in a new way. “It is something new and we can also engage people. As opposed to just telling them, they can do it with us.”

Gateway to website

The bar codes on flyers or in newspaper adverts are basically a gateway to the VIBE website, she explained. When decoded, the promotion’s logos turn into a ‘Mad Gab’ puzzle of unrelated words that, when read out loud, reveal a different meaning.

The first users to find the solution can call in at the radio station and win one of the prizes donated by sponsors of the promotion.

“We have sponsors from Cayman Airways to LIME and many others. We have a whole round of sponsors who have given us really valuable gifts,” said Ms Beersingh.

“Bar codes are being used a lot these days for promotions as it’s a fun and an easy way to access websites, special discount coupons – in fact tons of ways they can be used,” said LIME Marketing Manager Julie Hutton.

“You may have seen some of the advertisers out of the US using them on their TV ads – it’s just another way for customers to interact with you.”

Ms. Hutton explained that any smart phone, which includes Blackberrys, Androids and any phone with a camera and access to the internet, can be used to scan the bar codes at no extra cost.

“With some phones you might need to download additional software. Just go to www.i-nigma.mobi to access it,” she said.

Smart phone required

As the bar code scanning requires a smart phone, a high smart phone penetration in the market is essential to the success of a QR code campaign.

“We realised that in Cayman even some six

-year-olds have Blackberrys,” said Ms Beersingh. Because Cayman is so technologically advanced with a large number of Blackberry and other smart phone users, you have to use the market, she added.

Instead of a traditional way of presenting information, the use of the bar codes makes the process more interactive, and it is suitable for any kind of product or service.

The bar code itself is also not limited to traditional flyers or print media.

The codes can be scanned from anything, including newspaper and magazine adverts, television commercial, vans or buildings.

The information that is transmitted to the phone once the bar code has been scanned can also be anything from a message to a website link or a YouTube video.

At live promo stations this week, Vibe and LIME explained the campaign and showed how phones are used to scan the bar codes.

Ms Beersingh acknowledged that the use of bar codes will require some time to take hold.

“Even though it may not take right off today, we are schooling people, we are showing them the usability of the bar code and in the future most of our events are going to be marketed in this way,” she said.

Ms Hutton is also convinced that this type of marketing will catch on. “You will see LIME doing more of these promotions in the future – this is just the beginning,” she announced.