Winnipeg Free Press - ONLINE EDITION

QRs are becoming the next IT thing code mode

  • Print

THEY look like barcodes on steroids -- cryptic two-dimensional configurations of geometric shapes marketing officials say will change the way companies peddle their wares and consumers live their lives.

They're called QR codes -- the QR stands for "quick response" -- and they essentially provide smartphone users with an instant bridge between the physical world and the web world.

The codes have already started to show up in Win­nipeg in a few newspaper ads for things like the new Chevrolet Cruze and Sheps hair transplants.

But marketing experts predict the trickle will turn into a flood over the next year or two as smart­phones become increasingly popular and more companies start using websites and social media to connect with customers.

Here, in a nutshell, is how the technology works. Someone with a cellphone that's equipped with QR-code-reader software -- usually a smartphone -- points the phone camera at the QR symbol and snaps a picture. The software scans the code and provides the user with a link to a website with addi­tional information about the product. That could in­clude text, videos and links to blogs or social media sites where others talk about their products.

"It's a new way for our clients to reach their audi­ence more directly," said Callum Beattie of Neuhaus Design, the local firm that designed the Sheps Hair Transplant ad campaign. "The benefit is that the public can get information, maps, schedules, or spe­cial deals on items or topics of interest to them in that moment of interest."

And the potential applications don't stop with print ads. The codes can also be used on things like billboards, business cards, bus and subway ads, product labels and even on buildings.

Want some information on that turn-of-the-cen­tury building you stumbled upon during your Sun­day afternoon stroll through the Exchange District? It could be just a click away if the building has a QR symbol on the wall.

Ditto if you want to go on a virtual tour of that house with the For Sale sign on the lawn.

Mobile marketing experts like Kyle Romaniuk of Winnipeg-based Cocoon Branding and Daniel St.-Pierre of Montreal-based Didjet Inc. say the possi­bilities are endless.

"The only limit it has is the limit your imagina­tion gives it," St.-Pierre said in an interview.

Although the codes have been in use in Japan since the mid-1990s, it's only been in the last two or three years they've started to gain a foothold in North America -- and even later in Canada.

Romaniuk said Cocoon has only used them a couple of times. Once was in a marketing campaign it's developing for a local client and the other was in a promotional photo for a new line of modular furni­ture from one of its own divisions.

"They're definitely still an emerging thing (in Winnipeg)," Romaniuk said. "Not everyone neces­sarily knows what they are yet."

But St.-Pierre said it won't stay that way for much longer. "I believe it's just a matter of people getting up to speed phone-wise. A lot of people still have traditional cellphones."

Another marketing expert said for QR codes to become mainstream in Canada, most of the cell­phones on the market are going to have to come pre-equipped with code readers. "As that becomes a standard thing... then it starts getting really excit­ing," said Suzanne Raitt, vice-president of innova­tion and marketing for the Canadian Newspaper Association.

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes


  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.


Make text: Larger | Smaller


Jets fans decibel level through roof for first playoff game at MTS Centre

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • Aerial view of Portage and Main, The Esplanade Riel, Provencher Bridge over the Red River, The Canadian Museum for Human Rights and The Forks near the Assiniboine River, October 21st, 2011. (TREVOR HAGAN/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS) CMHR
  • The sun peers through the fog to illuminate a tree covered in hoar frost near Headingley, Manitoba Thursday- Standup photo- February 02, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)

View More Gallery Photos


Do you think the Jets will win Game 4 on Wednesday?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google