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BMW flaunts sound system via New York Auto Show QR codes

April 2, 2013


German automaker BMW is flaunting the Harman Kardon sound system in its vehicles through QR codes on the windows of certain models displayed at the New York International Auto Show.

The QR code was displayed on a sticker on BMW vehicles and offered a chance to win a Premium Audio System by Harman Kardon after registering personal information. A QR code can be an effective way to engage consumers in a placement such as this since it will target those who are most interested in the brand.

"Harman Kardon and BMW could identify that the use of the QR codes is tremendously more effective than relying on the customer to type a URL into a browser," said Stacy Morris, corporate communications manager of marketing and culture at BMW of North America, Woodcliff Lake, NJ.

"Since smartphones and QR codes reading devices are very common, it is also a much faster approach to delivering information to the customer," she said.

Scan to win

The sticker with the QR code was placed on the side of several BMW vehicles that offered the Harman Kardon system.

The sticker showed a picture of two people in a BMW and the Harman Kardon home system at the bottom. It had the call to action, “Test Drive the Harman Kardon system available in your BMW …  And win one for your home.”

Sticker with QR code

Scanning the QR code leads consumers to a microsite where they can give their personal information to be entered to win a home audio system.

Contest entry

After submitting their information, consumers can select a model of BMW to experience the Harman Kardon sound system. The choices are the BMW 1 series coupe or the BMW 3 series sedan.

Vehicle choices

Then, consumers can engage in a mobile interactive experience that offers text and a voice-over explaining the audio system in the BMW vehicles.

Sound system display

Since the contest is available to anyone at the New York Auto Show - not just BMW enthusiasts - there may not be much further engagement with the brand.

“The reason [QR codes] can be so effective is that in this case, the consumer needs to take action, so it will likely be a small percent who actually scan the QR code, but those who do are then more qualified,” said Jeff Gunderman, senior vice president and general manager atEye, New York.

“Presumably most consumers would want a home audio system even if they do not like BMW,” he said.“The issue is BMW is reaching consumers who just want to win as opposed to those who are really interested in BMW.

“Likely at a car show this is all right because you already have the consumer looking at BMW, but it still is not as relevant.”

Mobile engagement

Other automakers at this year’s New York Auto Show are engaging attendees through mobile and social platforms.

Audi, Bentley Motors, Jaguar, Porsche, Mercedes-Benz and BMW are each using social media to engage show attendees and share information with those who are not present at the New York Auto Show March 29-April 7. As with all major auto shows, social media is vital to showcasing an automaker’s models at the large event (see story).

Using mobile to allow consumers to learn more about automakers and vehicles can be an effective strategy since the consumer makes the first move and, therefore, the automaker can engage with those consumers who are interested.

“Car manufacturers have been using QR codes extensively on the sticker at the dealership, since it is a great way to expand on the information for the consumer when the messaging format has a limited space,” Mr. Gunderman said.

“I like the ability for the dealer to capture attention with pictures, headlines and limited text and then engage the consumer if they want more,” he said.

“This is an extension of that strategy at an auto show where BMW can further engage the consumer by allowing them to interact with the information via their mobile device and get more information.”

Final take

Erin Shea, editorial assistant on Luxury Daily, New York