AXA: QR Codes are an alien concept

In the increasingly cutthroat insurance ad business it pays to plan for the future, an irony that’s not entirely lost on this particular sector.

The insurance sector is currently having a boom time with advertising expenditure, tugging at the advertising heels of the FMCG brands in the major advertising league. The insurance industry spent a fairly hefty $4.15 billion on advertising in 2009.

For many of the big name brands, Geico, State Farm, AllState, etc the ads leave little to the imagination, often quirky but never straying too fair from the safety of a direct sales message.

It’s for this reason that this new commercial form AXA stands out so dramatically from the insurance pack.  in a bold step away from traditional ads the brand has developed one of the first truly integrated QR code TV commercials in Belgium, one that drives the user to uncover the ads meaning via their iPhone.

The ad depicts the front of a house with a QR code where the door should be.  A  loud crash ensues and the viewer is left wondering what happened. By pointing their handsets at the QR code the viewer is given access to additional video content that takes them through the front door and around the house, only to be confronted by an alien clinging to a meteorite that has crashed through the house.

It’s a cute addition that actually has a pay off for those who bother to follow the ad through, it also serves to drive awareness of AXA’s new insurance-based iPhone app.

However, there are some obvious issues. Firstly, the ad is heavily weighted towards iPhone users. Secondly, it requires those users to be swift enough to capture the QR code, further cutting down its audience. That said it’s an innovative approach for a sector that is ploughing a very mainstream ad field at the moment, and that should be applauded.

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