QR codes and teenage girls

I was listening to episode 28 of The [New] Talk Show, in which Gruber once again (rightfully) complains about girls at CES who have QR codes printed on their butts. For some reason my mind wandered to the TV show Nashville, and I had an epiphany. (No, stay with me.)

In case you haven’t been watching it, which is a sound choice, Nashville is an ABC show about the mostly-country music scene in, duh, Nashville. It stars Connie Britton and Hayden Panettiere as dueling country music divas who are forced (spoilers omg plot) to go on tour together. Right before the holiday mid-season break, an episode ran in which the divas co-write and perform a ditty called “Wrong Song” which is a sort of self-referential anthem about lying cheating bastards that men can be. Spoilers. Even though a) I don’t usually watch network TV drivel, b) I don’t care for most country music, c) I’m not normally remotely susceptible to this kind of music-from-TV schtick, and d) the song isn’t actually all that good, I really liked it and couldn’t get it out of my head. As soon as the episode wrapped, I immediately searched for it on iTunes.*

Understand that I am NOT one to download music from the teevee. Literally the only other time** I’ve sought out music that I first heard on TV was in Gossip Girl. Though you may knock it for its insanely bad badness to your heart’s content, Gossip Girl was frightfully on trend I literally heard my first ever Lady GaGa song there, and the show often featured currently trendy indie darlings like MGMT, Passion Pit, Camille, and lots more I’m sure I’m forgetting. At the end of the show they would have a little “you heard music from X” before the rest of the credits, and I usually followed up on that if I hadn’t already Shazamed it during the episode.

This got me thinking. You know those truly terrible teasers during TV shows where like the entire bottom half of the screen is completely covered by a totally distracting animation for a different program that you don’t intend to watch? What if, instead of that distracting irritation, networks simply broadcast a small, unobtrusive QR code that linked to whatever song was currently playing in the episode, from whatever music vendor they’ve struck a deal with (ahem, please make it Apple or Amazon)? Look, I like this idea so much I even mocked it up with some suuuper professional graphics:


Look, it’s uncharacteristic of me to behave like a fifteen-year-old girl with a smartphone, OR an exec tasked with marketing to said demographic, but I feel like this is the ONE area where teenage girlish marketing would serve me (and other geeks) well. This might be the first valid application of a QR code, AND the first welcome application of a popup ad on TV. We could usher in a whole new era. Imagine if every time an awesome song played, a QR code were displayed? (Rhyme unintentional.) What about commercials what if you could QR yourself up a manufacturer’s coupon for a discount on Febreeze the next time a Febreeze ad spot played? I’m just saying. QR codes are stupid, but maybe this could be the way to implement them that would piss off fewer people and actually deliver QResults.â„¢ Can’t you at least see stodgy network execs delighting over their new customer engagement metric? I can.

Perhaps there are limitations I’m not thinking of. Maybe the contrast wouldn’t quite be right, or the duration too short. Maybe no deal could ever be struck with a specific music partner. Maybe no advertisers could be trusted with the simple specs of implementing these at the right time, or in the right place, or at a small enough yet large enough size, or for the right duration. But I bet we could overcome these sillinesses — the first time I ever saw a QR code was on the TV-like screen of an arcade game in Tokyo in 2009, and it was easy enough to figure out how to react even though QR codes hadn’t really taken off in the West yet.

Food for thought. I sure would prefer a small square code over another friggin’ animated Amish Wars promo during a majestic nature show, DISCOVERY. Ugh.


*…And came up empty. This was back in December. When the season restarted this week, I checked again and the song was finally available for download, so I snagged it. This makes NO SENSE — why would you not have that very specific hit single content available when it first became relevant in the narrative of the show?! But that weird-ass publishing coordination failure is a whole other blog post for a different sort of blog.

** I survived living in Barcelona during the first-ever season of Operación Triunfo, and l felt like the only person who didn’t rush out and buy all the nouveau pop stars’ CDs.

P.S. I just noticed that Hayden and Connie have basically the same hair. Huh.