QR Code Reviews – Downy Unstopables

QR Code Reviews - Downy UnstopablesQR Code Reviews - Downy Unstopables - QR codeMaking effective QR codes takes work.  To shortcut the amount of learning and work required, you can look at how others are using QR codes.  By using the best techniques you find and avoiding the worst problems, you can make your QR codes be the best they can be.

Today we look at a QR code found on bottle of Downy Unstopables, a product that you add to your wash along with your fabric softener to provide a long lasting fresh scent.  The code is about 1.5 inches square and includes a call-to-action and a disclosure about text message and data rates may apply, all in English, Spanish, and French.  There is no URL.

The encoded URL is: http://bit.ly/KKuPED

QR Code Reviews - Downy Unstopables - iPhone screenQR Code Reviews - Downy Unstopables - iPhone screen in landscape

Overall rating: 3 out of 5

QR Code Reviews - Downy Unstopables - Rating - 3 out of 5

7 Key Aspects to Great QR codes

Here are some important questions that all great QR codes need to answer:

Is there a good call-to-action near the QR code?

  • There is a call-to-action but not a very good one.

What does the QR code look like (colors, design, etc)?

  • The QR code is the standard black elements on a white background.

Is the QR code easy to find and incorporated into the overall design?

  • This QR code is easy to find, located on the back of the bottle but not specifically incorporated into the design

What happens when you scan the code?

  • You are taken to a landing page that describes a different product, Downy Infusions (a fabric softener)

If a URL is encoded, is the landing page mobile friendly and designed well?

  • The landing page is mobile friendly and is designed well

If a URL is encoded, does it utilize a redirect to help with future changes?

  • The encoded URL does feature a redirect but it uses Bit.ly to handle the redirect, something that a large company like Proctor & Gamble should consider not doing.

Does the action of the scan provide value to the customer?

  • The information on the landing page is helpful but since it does not mention the product, there is a lot of room for improvement.

What We Can Learn

Procter & Gamble has a few opportunities for improvement with this QR code.  First, it’s easy to find on the back of the bottle.  There is a call-to-action, but it’s not that great.  Interestingly, the call-to-action is in English, Spanish, and French, something you won’t find that often.  When scanned, you will see an encoded Bit.ly forwarding URL.  Once you reach the landing page, you are greeted with information on a completely different product.  Disappointing, but it could be worse.  At least the design is good and mobile friendly.

From a user perspective, the QR code is in a good spot.  The call-to-action, at least the English version, may encourage you to scan the code but it could be better.  There is a disclaimer that you may encounter data rates if you scan the code. This wording is the first I’ve seen like this.  I think by now, most customers realize that accessing the internet on their mobile device on anything but Wifi could cost you money, data, or both.

Anyway, if you get past the call-to-action and scan the code, deciding to visit the site regardless of the Bit.ly forward, you land on a well designed page that unfortunately, does not feature the product you might would expect.  The landing page is mobile friendly with a good design.  It’s hard to overlook the fact that the product is not the same one you are holding when you scan the QR code.

How can we help Procter & Gamble?

Most QR code campaigns have room for improvement.  This one is no different.  First off, linking the QR code to the landing page about the actual product would be a big, dare I say, huge improvement. This page is my suggestion.  Fortunately, this one is an easy fix because the encoded URL already utilizes forwarding.  Good news.

Next, a better call-to-action would be a good idea.  Something like “To learn more about the product, scan here”.  Simple, to the point.  Skip the disclaimer (or don’t, I’m not a lawyer so you may not want to listen to me) and add some verbiage that talks about the benefits of scanning the code.  That would encourage more people to use your QR code, learn more about your product, and spend more money.  Win, win, win.

Lastly, using a different forwarding URL would be a good idea.  Bit.ly is a fine service but for a company as big as Procter & Gamble, there has to be a better URL they could have used that fit the company branding.  The main company website is http://www.pg.com which is fantastic and short.  That domain plus a few product keywords would have made a much better forwarding URL.


When making your own QR codes, keep the following in mind:

  • Your landing page could be good, your QR code could be great, and you could even be using a forwarding domain but if the information on your landing page is not relevant to your customer, you are not adding value and wasting their time.  Plus, you are wasting your money and consumer good will.
  • If you have a short URL or can get a short URL, don’t rely on a forwarding domain service.  Add a few 301 redirects and keep control of the entire process.

We are starting to see QR codes on a large variety of products.  I’ve seen them on a can of black eye peasbrake padssilicone spray, a box of doughnuts, plantain chips, and many more.  What products have you noticed with QR codes lately?

If you have questions about how to get started using QR codes in your business, how to use QR codes more effectively, or how fix a QR code issue, let me help.   If you want to learn more about QR codes, check out my free e-book.