Food & Wine magazine readers got a little something extra in their July 2010 issues, but sadly I almost didn’t realize it–even with a second reminder on page 211, the beginning of the “Best New Chefs” spread. The unusual graphic in the bottom right hand corner of the covers (subscriber and newsstand editions) and in the center of the opening page of the spread was a quick response (or QR) code for smartphone users to scan for access to additional content.
Given the ever-growing technological savvy of, well, everyone, it’s no surprise that a magazine would do this. (Some Dutch and British publications already have.) After all, the printed word now has to compete with multiple electronic devices, so it’s nice to see the original “wireless” and “handheld” devices making themselves appropriately innovative.
And what consumer doesn’t want the rush of getting more bang for the buck? Smartphone users must download a free app (by visiting gettag.mobi) on their phones before scanning the modern day bar code. Non-smartphone users (like me) can access the link here or go to www.QRstuff.com to see if a reader exists to support one’s phone model. (If viewing the video on a non-phone device, keep in mind that the clip wasn’t optimized for that purpose, so the quality varies accordingly.)
The additional content was a short, behind-the-scenes clip of the Best New Chefs cover photo shoot, as well as a brief intro on selecting the winners and what the title means to the lucky chefs.
If Food & Wine’s foray into QR code territory were to start a trend, I started thinking about what other contests or cross-promotions other magazines could highlight this way. Since QR codes lead to what I would loosely consider cover content, I would argue that they shouldn’t promote advertising (though Food & Wine’s code and cover did, or at least nudged the questionable boundaries).
Here are a couple of future QR code cover promo possibilities:
- Food Network Magazine is teaming up with DIY Network (Food Network’s sister channel) to help make over the worst kitchen in America for the cook who actually uses it. The transformation will be the subject of a DIY Network special in January 2011, and the winner will be featured in the January/February issue of Food Network Magazine.
- Cooking Light magazine‘s nationwide search for the healthiest chef will culminate with a live cook-off at the Taste of Atlanta outdoor food festival in October 2010. The winner will be crowned the “Healthy Chef of the Year,” and will receive a kitchen makeover and free groceries for a year, plus become a contributor to the magazine and its website in 2011.
Whether these and other magazines choose to utilize QR code technology remains to be seen, but it seems like a logical fit to me.