Shazam, The QR code equivalent for TV commercials?

Hello world,

Due to food poisoning I had to stay home sick for most of last week. It gave me the opportunity to rest, and catch up with commercials. I couldn’t help but notice that most of the new branding messages on TV had a nice little Shazam addition to their clip. I thought it was interesting, somewhat innovative but limited.

I really like the idea of engaging the consumers in new and innovative ways but I can’t help but remain skeptic. For the purpose of this entry I’m going to look at two commercials: the best and the worst execution in the presence of Progressive and Old Navy (and vice-versa, it will make sense later).

The motivation for this innovative tie-in wasn’t an immaculate conception. I’m sure the brief included information on the target audience and smart phone usage. According to a google survey, in terms of general usage, 93% of smartphone users use their phones at home; 81% browse the Internet and 77% search on their phones, 72% of smartphone users use their phones while consuming other media. One-third of smartphone owners use their phones while watching TV. Food for thought.

In my opinion the Old Navy execution didn’t work simply because of timing. Though we established that our audience watches TV while using their smartphone, it’s hard to expect consumers to have the App ready to go while watching TV. The Shazam prompt in the old Navy commercial came in too early. So if you missed the first five seconds of the ad, you’re missing out on additional content. (but they made up for it in another way)

The progressive commercial on the other hand did a good job at setting up the prompt. The ad had a banner at the bottom of the screen with instruction on when to “Shazam” the ad for additional content. It works but it’s not perfect.

From a practical standpoint, the Progressive ad still fails on some level. Contrarely to music – with recognizable lyrics and sound– these are commercials. Sure they’re scripted, but they’re still commercial. So unless you’ve registered the whole ad in the Shazam database, you have to time the prompt. On top of that, the format of the TV commercial in itself–30 seconds to get the phone, then shazam ready– is a pain. But where one fails another strives.

Old Navy is not a complete loser in this picture–in all honesty, they’re the trendsetters in this field– because they built and delivered strong content around the commercials.

First the song and the band, purely created to promote the brand. It’s not the first time we’ve seen fictional bands, but it’s the first time they’re use in this fashion.

Second, the content tie-in was interesting. A fun landing page that gives you an overview of the whole campaign: More info on the song and the band + the opportunity to shop the looks seen in the commercial. And as an added bonus for your effort you get the download the song for free. I used to think who would want to have that until I realized that the song had more than 2 million views.

Progressive on the other hand failed miserably–last time I checked– to deliver content. When I “Shazamed” the commercial all I got was a picture a Flo. I’m a big fan of Flo. I think she’s one of the best commercial spokesperson out there. Unfortunately there was no engagement. /update/ You just get a link to get a quote and some “goodies”/.

What went wrong? Digital production was not done? These are the type of mistake that make you loose your audience. You succeeded in grabbing their attention but then you lost it. Not cool.

The fundamental question remains: Fad or Trend? I believe it’s a trend. I think it’s only going to gain momentum when people realized the potential of this type of cross promotion with Shazam. We will be able to tag coupons, Facebook likes, or contact information in videos. I don’t know if it’s because I’m working on QR code campaign right now, but I feel like Shazam has the potential to become The TV equivalent of QR codes. Because of that, this conversation just got more interesting.

Feel free to share what comes to your mind and leave comments.

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(Images via



2 responses to “Shazam, The QR code equivalent for TV commercials?

  1. Pingback: Very Interesting use of Shazam – The QR code equivalent for TV commercials? « Diary of Traveling souls « Transmedia Camp 101·

  2. Pingback: LPT » Blog Archive » Shazam Moves from Song ID Service to the QR Code for Television·

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