Salvation Army Needs a Helping Hand With MS Tag

From Monique Priestley (edited):

Okay, I feel guilty for picking on the Salvation Army, but geez…

image: SAL Bus Ad

Salvation Army Bus Ad

On the 74 Express bus from Downtown Seattle to Sand Point. There was a Salvation Army advertisement with a small Microsoft Tag. (Yes, that’s right, a small Microsoft Tag on a banner that was along the roof of a moving bus.)

The ad was one for the Salvation Army of Seattle — you needed to scan a small Microsoft Tag (with an MS Tag Reader of course) and you could donate money. It didn’t tell you how much or give you any other options.

Personally, I think it would be a great idea if companies advertising on the buses attempted a mobile ad or two. Of course, as I mentioned before… these things are moving — and the ads are on the roof. Something like SMS is a good idea because riders could put a code into a phone and receive a quick message back. But a QR/Microsoft Tag? On the ceiling of a moving vehicle? How exactly do they expect users to hold the phone still, up in the air above their head, close enough for the scanner to read a tiny 2D barcode? I can barely keep my hand still enough and close enough to scan those pesky MS Tags when they are on a stationary piece of paper right in front of me (they are really fussy). The bus never held still long enough for me to try it (plus I felt like an idiot holding my phone up to the ceiling, trying to hold on as the bus rocked all over the place).

It was the saddest excuse for a mobile ad that I have tried so far.


It Gets Better…Once at my desk I did a quick search for “salvation army qr.” I got one result that looked promising, I sent the site to my DROID and the YouTube video played but I didn’t dare enter my number to test [donations] because it NEVER says ANYWHERE how much you’re about to donate. For all I know they set the figure to $100 or $1,000,000 (it could happen).


What could have saved this campaign?
Salvation Army gets credit for trying but this portion of their campaign is really poorly done.  You may not have noticed but the advertisement is promoting donations and yet the video that plays as a result of scanning the tag is promoting volunteer-ism.  The only thing that would have saved this campaign is to use SMS instead of MS Tag. This simply is not a good place for a 2D code. The organization already has an SMS donation option (text “SAL” to 50555) and bus riders can participate simply by reading the call-to-action from where they sit. Optionally, the SMS could trigger the exact same URL at which the MS Tag is pointed.  Additionally, and less critically, the video should support the ‘Donate Now’ theme rather than trying to layer in a volunteer pitch.


About Kelly McIvor

Kelly McIvor is an 18 year veteran of mobile and is currently Principal at Atomic Mobile and professor (adjunct) at the University of Washington Graduate School of Communications where he teaches a popular courses on Mobile Media and Marketing in the Masters of Communications in Digital Media (MCDM) program. Kelly holds a BA in Business from the University of Washington.
This entry was posted in barcodes, Donations, Microsoft Tag, Non-Profit, QR Codes. Bookmark the permalink.

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