Test barcode escapes into the wild

Giant US automobile supplier Chevrolet (Chevy) is experimenting with using 2D barcodes at this weekend’s [March13th-14th] South by Southwest (SXSW) tech conference and music festival held in Austin, Texas. Somebody accidentally published the wrong picture, however.

The illustrations provided showed that Chevrolet will be using QR codes to invite attendees to find out, “What role Chevy has played in film or music?” Attendees can scan the code on their cameraphone via suitable barcode scanning software such as the NeoReader from NeoMedia.

The intention is to takes users to the Chevy Facebook page here specially created for SXSW. Unfortunately, a blogger got hold of an early version of the illustration; scanned it and discovered that it had a text message which read,” Hi there, I’m Chrissie.”

What that test code was intended to do was trigger the handset’s text/SMS message editor. It would then feed in the desired text – in this case Hi there, I’m Chrissie – and then send it to the number provided. Unfortunately the number provided is Chevy PR lady, Chrissie’s real cell phone number. Oh dear.

Anyway, Techeye rang the number and explained what had happened. The PR company quickly rectified the problem and supplied us with the correct graphics.

The Japanese, of course, have extensive experience with QR codes. As long ago as 2006, McDonalds in Japan was providing QR codes on the packing of its burgers, fries, etc. When the barcode is scanned, it gives out nutritional information on the item in question.

This campaign made it into a short McDonalds Japan advert which somebody uploaded to YouTube here. American visitors have been desperately trying to scan the QR codes with their cameraphones and can’t understand why they don’t work.

The solution is simple. The Japanese advertising agency was well aware of the dangers of using ‘live’ barcodes, so the codes shown in the adverts are spoofs. Simples. Thanks to Dr  Müller for sorting that one out for us.