As part of its launch of the 2010 Taurus, the Ford brand is putting bar codes in print ads, brochures and dealership displays that launch promotional videos on Internet-enabled camera phones.
When a consumer snaps a picture of a bar code, the browser on the phone kicks into action.
"It's giving our print materials a third dimension," said Lew Echlin, the Ford brand's car marketing communications manager.
The technology was launched by Microsoft Corp. in January and is being used in marketing campaigns for General Mills, Procter & Gamble and others. Ford is the first automaker to use the technology on a national scale, although Microsoft is talking to six other automakers, said Aaron Getz, Microsoft's unit manager for the tag program.
"With Ford jumping in feet first, I think it will shape [the opinions] of other manufacturers, and we'll see a rapid increase in tags use," Getz said.
Brian Bos, a senior vice president at Mindshare/Team Detroit, which handles new media for the agency's Ford Motor Co. account, agrees.
"Quick response codes have been used at events and auto shows in the past," Bos said. "But we are seeing the compatibility of this technology match where consumers are headed with their phone adoption."