August 10, 2011 KahnMedia

Want a free cup of coffee? Steal this QR Code!

We just ran across a really interesting social media experiment. Jonathan Stark has published an image of the QR code on the back of his Starbucks card. He invites anyone and everyone to go into the coffee house and order a coffee, and try to scan the image.

If he has money on his card, you get a free coffee. All he asks in return is for you to take a picture and post to his FB or Twitter account. For added karma points… next time you have a few extra points on your card, pass it along to someone in need.

What’s interesting about this is that it weaves several different social media layers into a single interesting viral campaign. Mr. Stark created this campaign on his blog, promotes it through Facebook and Flickr, uses QR technology provided by Starbucks to “pay it forward” and then asks people who take advantage to let the world know by creating their own posts. Whether he does this purely out of goodwill and a desire to see how far it spreads or – as some cynics have suggested – because he is somehow involved in an subtle viral marketing campaign is irrelevant. What’s interesting here is that he is A) helping strangers he has never met and B) has figured out a way to make QR technology work for more than simply scanning ads in magazines to see more ads.

What do you think – interesting social media experiment, innovative way to rack up goodwill, or an underground Starbucks PR campaign? Any thoughts?