Making the Offline and Online World Intersect

Thanks to the digital world, the time has come for us to constantly think about how things can be improved upon, and even be done differently, when dealing with any sort of messaging.

Allow me to give an example of exactly what I’m talking about.

I’m based out of New York City and take the subway to our Midtown office each morning. Part of that morning routine is picking up a Metro newspaper along the route and browsing it prior to getting to the office.

Upon doing so last week, I noticed something different about the paper – there was a J.C. Penney sticker ad on the front cover (seen below).

These types of ads have been done for years, but for whatever reason (maybe I was having an extra nerdy kind of morning), this particular ad prompted me to write this post.

Was I really supposed to pull the ad off the front cover to take advantage of the discount?

Once I pull it off the paper, how would I go about keeping it from sticking together (barcode on the back) throughout the day, or, for a matter of fact, until I could go shopping?

How would I remember that I have this coupon to save $10?

Shift in Thinking
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with what J.C. Penney has done with this ad. In fact, I’m sure the format has worked wonders for them when it comes to brand awareness, but I think there’s also an opportunity to take it up a notch.

What if there were a QR code, or even a Web address, that I could scan or visit that . . .

  •  Pulled the coupon up on my phone,
  • Allowed me to save the image to be scanned at the register at a later date,
  • And even put a reminder to use the coupon on my calendar.

My guess is that J.C. Penney wants to convert these ads, so utilizing the items mentioned above could help make that a reality.

Consumers are hit with a massive number of ads and messages during the day, but if you can find a way to stay top of mind, or even get on their calendar, you have a better chance of creating a sale, and not just running an ad.

Not Down for the Count
My inner nerd simply wouldn’t allow me to leave this topic alone. From a customer standpoint, I became curious if the promotion was mentioned on JCPenney.com, just in case my sticker ad ended up stuck to a binder, my shoe, or even a subway railing.

Thankfully, the folks at J.C. Penney have the discount on their website and allow you to send a text message to have a QR code that can be scanned at the register (via mobile scanning) sent directly to your phone.

Moving Forward
Moving forward, it would be great to see J.C. Penney and other companies think beyond traditional means and figure out creative ways to make the offline and online worlds intersect in a meaningful way.

Note: J.C. Penney is making strides and doing great things with technology, but for this post I’m focusing on this specific example.

Ryan is Senior Manager, Online Communications, for Ketchum. He’s an avid cyclist and blogger, and is proud of his Southern roots. Feel free to check out his personal website, or connect with him on Twitter – @RyanShell.