I got into advertising because the talent God chose to bless me with is to get people to think about things differently. I was never one of those copywriters who wanted to shock people into submission. Rather, I try to respect the audience, whoever they are, so that the concepts I write speak specifically to them in subtly meaningful ways. Sure, many (many) clients don’t see the need for this level of empathy and prefer to sell things by jamming them down their audience’s throats. After all, who’s got time for respect? SELL SELL SELL. The people who subscribe to this communications style are likely the same people who invented QR codes. 

In house marketing guy: “I have an idea – let’s create these obscure pixelated stickers that contain embedded information and stick them onto things that people we’re selling to will scan and see our ads or anything else we want to say to them. We can do anything with them. We can even make them subliminal. How cool is that?” 

Marketing manager: “It’s VERY cool. Let’s do it. Get the computer nerds in here and let’s launch this puppy.” [Pushing the button on his speakerphone] “Deloris, get the sticker company on the phone. We’re about to change everything!” 

This, of course, assumes two things: 1) People have devices that can scan stuff, and 2) People want to engage with your marketing. 

I don’t. I don’t care if you make a QR code that looks like Halle Berry, I’m not scanning it. As a modern consumer, I’m inundated with more messaging than at any point in history. I’ve learned how to deflect it. When I’m watching Modern Family, I get up and do something during commercials. When I’m listening to the radio and the actual songs end for a commercial break, I turn the volume down. When I visit a website that has those obnoxious pop up surveys or ads, my cursor goes right to the X. I’m desensitized to advertising. I think most of us are. So why the hell would I take the time to scan a QR code that’s generated by marketers? For a coupon? So I can sign up for a newsletter? Are you fucking nuts? The QR code craze is the brainchild of someone who figured that people love being marketed to. I predict that QR codes for marketing will die when the novelty of being able to scan something with your phone dies. People don’t want to be marketed to, they want to interact. 

Enter Stickybits. Same scanning concept as QR codes, except Stickybits uses existing barcodes. Here’s how it works – you’re in a store and you see something you’re on the fence about purchasing. You scan the barcode in Stickybits. Suddenly, you see consumer reviews, pictures, videos, recommendations to other things you might like instead, etc. And it’s all user generated info. Not marketing department generated. It’s a brilliant alternative to QR codes. No, Stickybits hasn’t taken off yet, but when more people learn about it, I can’t imagine that people will actually look to scan a QR code for a marketing message from the advertiser when they can scan a barcode and see reviews from real consumers. I started using Stickybits for Boxman Studios this year so that when the venues are out in the field, people can scan the barcode on the box and share experiences with others who will use the venue one day. I may still generate QR codes for the Boxman venues as a way for people to get more info about them, but given the option between scanning a QR code and a Stickybits barcode – I’m guessing most people are going to go with Stickybits. 

As always, thanks for reading my words. 


Jim Mitchem


On Mardi Gras
OMG I'm So Stoked About #SXSWi!! Totally #winning!

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.