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September 28, 2011

A screen shot of the Android app

NEW YORK – Mobile bar codes are an effective way to leverage a brand’s existing marketing efforts and build brand awareness, according to a Zappos executive who presented at OMMA Global.

Online retailer recently tested the mobile waters with mobile bar codes. In addition to mobile bar codes, the company also combines its marketing efforts with digital and social initiatives.

“Zappos sells more than just shoes, so how do we get people to know that?” said Liz Dizon, brand marketing manager at, Henderson, NV.

If the shoe fits
One of the main goals of’s mobile campaign was to leverage the retailer’s already existent content and make it more engaging for consumers.

“We wanted to make each opportunity for a consumer to engage with us a positive experience that reflects our brand,” Ms. Dizon said. is a retailer that is known for its customer service.

The company has also learned that its users are busy on-the-go women who expect the same level of customer service on their mobile devices. worked with advertising agency Mullen on its mobile efforts.

Mr. Vaccarino and Ms. Dizon at the OMMA Global show

“Zappos’ target audience wants to participate in marketing and had a simple message in mind,” said Tim Vaccarino, group creative director at Mullen, Boston.

Zappos integrated mobile bar codes into magazine advertisements with two separate campaigns that were targeted at different demographics – women with casual styles and women who prefer trendy fashion pieces.

To target the casual-dressing woman, the retailer played off paper dolls as a theme of ads that included a QR code.

When consumers scanned the code, they were prompted to dress a model by swiping through outfits. Once users finished putting together a look, they were directed to Zappo’s site to purchase items directly.

Some of the ads that ran in September magazines included additional content via QR codes with videos and social media that led users to style videos and Twitter handles.

Zappos took a riskier approach with a print campaign that was targeted towards stylish consumers.

The second set of ads that included QR codes showed people stripped of all clothing with bars across them to drive home the point that Zappos sells clothing and accessories in addition to shoes.

Consumers who scanned the codes could view a video that expands on the particular scene in the advertisement.

Again, users were promoted to shop the Zappos collection after watching the video.

Liz Dizon, brand marketing manager at, Henderson, NV

Multichannel is key
Mobile bar codes are an easy way for brands and retailers to interact with consumers.

However, mobile bar codes have to have a strong value and cannot be slapped on just any print material without a clear call to action for consumers.

By using mobile bar codes, Zappos was able to leverage existing content with a mobile aspect.

In addition to mobile, Zappos incorporated other digital advertising into the campaign.

Zappos is not the only retailer that is realizing the possibilities of adding mobile to campaigns.

Most recently, JCPenney began a campaign that used mobile bar codes to drive sales via a commerce-enabled site (see story). 

“It’s not enough to passively throw out a message to consumers anymore,” Mr. Vaccarino said. “People want to be a part of your brand now.”

Final Take
Lauren Johnson is editorial assistant on Mobile Commerce Daily, New York

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