Sep 23, 2010

American Cancer Society Using QR Codes, Growing Adoption of 2D Codes by the Healthcare Industry

The American Cancer Society is using QR codes (those funky new bar codes you see popping up everywhere) to promote its Making Strides for Breast Cancer walk. As part of the integrated campaign, ACS has incorporated QR codes into an outdoor promotion for the event (pictured below).
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Images courtesy of the 2D Barcode Strategy Blog
QR (short for Quick Response) codes are 2-dimensional bar codes that can be read by the camera in your smartphone through a reader (if you need a reader, you can download one from our website at and execute an action to take you to a website, watch a video, download a coupon, or a host of other helpful applications.
While the codes originally appeared in mainstream marketing in Japan and are now more recently being used by a growing list of U.S. marketers like GAP, Calvin Klein, Clinique and Ford…the healthcare industry is embracing the technology at record pace.
In the case of the American Cancer Society, a QR code is featured on a bus shelter ad and links to a mobile site for “Making Strides for Breast Cancer.” (note: the campaign was no longer active as of 3/12/2012) 
From the mobile site, you can opt-in for information or reminders about participating in the walk or generate an email invite or reminder to a friend. You can also find out how to donate to the ACS via an SMS campaign (text HOPE to 20222 to make a $5 donation).
As the 2D Barcode Strategy Blog points out, the creative execution of the outdoor unit could be improved through instruction about how to scan the code or download a reader. However, kudos to ACS for experimenting with the technology, and I look forward to seeing how the organization will be integrating it into more materials in the future – including the event itself.
Another cool QR campaign that recently launched in August was sponsored by the Oral Cancer Foundation. The OCF used QR codes to promote disease awareness at a major surf event (Surf City). At the event, representatives of the OCF handed out stickers, T-shirts, and even temporary tattoos bearing a QR code that linked to a web page containing disease information.
If you’re interested in learning more about QR codes and mobile health, I’ll be presenting at the e-Patient Connections Conference next week. The presentation titled "Optical Recognition — Fad or Rad?" will detail how quick response codes, augmented reality and optical recognition are changing healthcare communications. Our agency will also be hosting Innovation Island sessions featuring interactive QR code and Augmented Reality demos – so please stop by, say “hello” and I’ll be happy to demo these technologies live.
Please leave a comment or contact me directly if you’ll be in the area next week and would like to connect.


  1. Very good tips and viewpoint. Usually the success of a business or a site comes from your own hands also. Think wisely and positive. Thanks for having it here.. :)

  2. And don't forget about measurement. It's easy to get lost in the technology and lose sight of the objectives. We recently did a post Pharma Marketing: What Are We Measuring and Why? that gets into measurement in more detail.


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