Heineken uses QR codes to build community

The Dutch brewery gave festival attendees in Poland a way to connect by printing QR codes they could put on their bodies.

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Heineken has already got one pretty good way to help strangers meet one another: It sells beer. But the Dutch brewing company wasn’t content with that alone to build a community at its 2011 Open’er Festival, a weekend music fest in Gdynia, Poland.

“Apart from the music, we knew festival goers also come to meet and have fun with other people, thus we tried to think of an innovative manner for strangers to strike up a conversation,” says David Lette, marketing manager for Heineken Poland.

What the company eventually came up with were U-Codes, scannable QR code stickers festival attendees could print out and attach to their backs, chests, arms, or legs. When scanned with a smartphone, the codes would reveal personal messages that the wearers had written. Think of them as an ice breaker.

The stickers were a huge success, and they’ve got the company thinking of ways attendees at future festivals can better connect.

Development and creation

Open’er is a summer festival—last year it ran from June 30 to July 3—and planning for it starts as early as September, says Lette. The U-Codes project came together a little later, though.

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