June 22nd, 2015 By Caspar Mason
Well this is awkward.
A QR code – printed on the side of Heinz Ketchup bottles, inviting you to design your own label – pointed at least one surprised German Ketchup-lover towards a hardcore porn site. Which is certainly saucy, but probably not what they had in mind.
The bottles were distributed as part of a promotion from 2012–2014, and the bottles are still in people’s cupboards. But Heinz(/their agency) failed to secure the URL in question. Ownership expired, and the pornographers moved in.
Heinz has offered the man a free bottle, with a bespoke label. The porn site, in a move that Heinz would no doubt describe as deeply unhelpful, have offered him a year’s subscription.
QR codes have had a bad rap, partly due to some epic misuses. But this seems like a whole new area of error opening up. Yesterday’s promo campaign could be tomorrow’s Social gaffe. And the next time you point your phone at a QR code, not sure exactly where it will take you, you’re playing a game of QR-ussian Roulette.
Be careful out there.