Ad campaigns at airports offer travellers free content by scanning large barcodes

Current advertising campaigns at London Gatwick Airport and Denver International Airport use novel ways to bring otherwise static billboards to live. As the vast majority of travellers carry a smartphone or advanced cellphone with a camera, Gatwick Airport and FirstBank at Denver Airport use giant 2D and 3D codes to turn the billboards into digitally interactive objects scannable by mobile phones. 

‘Stickybits’ at Gatwick Airport
Gatwick Airport is currently undergoing a GBP 1 billion investment programme to modernise its facilities. As most of the work takes place out of sight, hidden behind hoardings, the airport has placed so-called ‘stickybits’, barcodes printed on stickers, on hoardings around the airport. Passengers who have also downloaded the free ‘stickybits’ application for iPhones and Android phones can scan the barcoded stickers to receive a short video and some photographs detailing the changes taking place at the airport. The audiovisual tour is also linked to location-based social networks such as Foursquare, Gowalla and Facebook Places, so passengers that check-in virtually also can get an audio visual peek behind the scenes. 

Gatwick is kicking the tour off at its North Terminal. When travellers scan the barcodes at the hoarding, a video shows how the new shuttle route between the North and South Terminals was built. Over the coming months more large barcodes will be appearing around the airport, which together will form a ‘Gatwick Discovery Tour’. Locations will be changed and the content refreshed to keep the tour interesting and up-to-date. Says Samantha Holgate, Gatwick’s Head of Airport Communicationsm “The airport is going through a major programme of improvement designed to benefit the passengers but most of this work is hidden behind standard construction hoarding. Many of our passengers are social media savvy so introducing stickybits is a great way to interact with them.” Gatwick is the first company in the UK to use the stickybits. More pictures of the barcode campaign can be found here.

‘QR codes’ at Denver Airport
In the USA, FirstBank, Colorado’s largest locally owned bank, is known for its ad campaigns providing services to make life easier. In August 2010, FirstBank installed revolving signboards at airports with places for kids to put their hands and start running in circles, so they would sleep on the plane. 

FirstBank’s latest campaign at Denver International Airport consists of signboards with several QR, or quick-response, codes displayed. Anyone with a smartphone can take a picture of the QR codes to unlock free goodies, such as e-books, crosswords and sudoku puzzles. Travelers without a smartphone can download content by visiting a FirstBank microsite. “The core of the idea was the bank’s tagline, ‘we’re here to help you save.’ But instead of just writing headlines about FirstBank, we wanted to actually help people save,” says TDA, the advertising agency responsible for the campaign. “We’ve all been in an airport and forgotten to bring something to read, so if we could help consumers save the USD5 or 10 they might spend on a magazine or book.” 

There are 12 different e-books available for download and FirstBank estimates that 7,000 books and puzzles will be downloaded throughout the five-month campaign. To date, 91 percent of downloads have come from the microsite and the remaining 9 percent from QR codes. More pictures of the FirstBank QR campaign are available here

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