Quite Ridiculous and of Questionable Relevance

Small things annoy me. Big things annoy me too. But, more often, it’s the inconsequential that really hacks me off. The nigglers. The things that don’t really matter but that, nevertheless, incense you.

They generally administer their torture over a period of time, working their way to a crescendo of annoyance that, if not tempered, can result in a toys-out-of-the-pram rant directed at innocent bystanders. Or, worse, pointed at someone you actually care about.

You know the kind of thing: a squeak in your car’s interior; the next-door neighbour’s cat shitting in your chrysanthemums; dim-witted, hesitant, inconsiderate, stupid, hateful drivers that sit in the right-hand lane and dictate your speed – plus the 400 cars behind you – instead of moving left and letting everyone get on with their lives…

Yet when, like me, you react to this kind of thing. Like an Italian, with grunts and screams and lots of arm movement. People think you’re a little unbalanced.

They see a Honda Civic being driven carefully by a respectable elderly gent going about his daily business, or a lovely little tabby sniffing the geraniums. What they don’t realise is that this is a regular occurrence and, therefore, it is perfectly acceptable to want to kill the culpable kitten. Or pensioner.

Cats and old people aside, something that has been irrationally irritating me for months is/are QR codes. Those little inconsequential foreign squiggles of pointlessness that no one. And I mean no one – not even geeks – ever bothers to scan.

They are useless. Utterly, unequivocally, emphatically useless. And yet, every single day, without fail, a quirky, unshaven Marketing Director with black-framed spectacles and rolled-up chinos says to his willing design team: “don’t forget to add a QR code to this ad – it’s important.”

It isn’t important. No one cares. We don’t use them. Stop giving your company’s valuable advertising real estate away to the pathetic little wimpish blobs of insignificant frivolous black and white nothingness.

Earn your Ray Ban specs, Paul Smith blazer, Moleskin notepad and your Audi A5. Do your £60k-a-year job properly and tell your CEO that they are shit: a passing whim that sneak onto the peripheral of your advert yet sit there like a bulging, attention-seeking wart.

It’s bad enough when one is placed, arrogantly, on a newspaper ad. That said, at least you could, if you were so inclined (even though no one is), scan it with your mobile phone. But what really angers me is when they creep elsewhere, which they do, regularly, and lie in places that make it completely unpractical to scan them even if you wanted to (which you wouldn’t).

Recently, there was one plonked thoughtfully on a billboard alongside Princess Parkway, one of the main routes into Manchester upon which the speed limit is 40mph. It was tiny, yet there it was, a forlorn-looking QR code innocently watching the traffic speed by.

Now, even if I had wanted to be directed to the advertiser’s no-doubt-fully-optimised-for-mobile-browsing-landing-page-or-website, even a superb, adroit, quick-witted, handsome and discerning driver like myself would find it pretty bloody difficult to scan a code, on my mobile, from 90 yards away. At 40mph.

“I’m sorry officer, but there is a perfectly reasonable explanation: the reason I have just rammed this gentleman from behind, written off his car and caused him to have a heart attack is simple – I was merely trying to scan that billboard and download a free ‘How to be a Better Driver’ guide. Apologies.”

This is not a standalone fail. Check out these fantastic examples of Quite Ridiculous and Quite Random QR codes/warts: some you even have to cross a Tube track to scan. Over zealous health and safety peeps, how come you’re not on this?

So, advertisers and creatives have become a little obsessed. QR codes are an epidemic that have spread like syphilis. Perhaps they thought the QR code could save the decline in print advertising by making it a bit more, you know, cool. Not to mention flexible, and digital. But it doesn’t. It adds no additional value, and none of the key demographics bother to scan them.

What’s more, even if you were to bother, invariably you’re directed to an ill-thought-out landing page that isn’t fit for purpose because it doesn’t function on a mobile device. Why?

I’ll tell you why. Because the man with the black-rimmed Ray Bans said it should be there.

Clearly, he should be hit over the head with his iPad 2 and handed his P45. And, when applying for a new job, if he has a QR code on his CV (some do you know, I’ve seen them) then he should be shot and placed in a shallow grave next to the kitten and the Honda Civic driver.

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