EDITOR'S NOTE: This story incorrectly spelled the name of dealer marketing company Level 5 Marketing.
If you're not tech-savvy, you might have thought it was an odd inkblot on your newspaper. But those in the know could link from the QR -- for quick response -- bar code on the newspaper ad to dealership Web sites through their cell phones.
Three New York Acura dealers first used the bar code technology in an April 14 full-page ad in The New York Times. The dealers hoped the ads would build sales and, maybe, a local dealer ad association.
Consumers could download a QR app and scan the code with a smart-phone camera. Doing so took them to a special Web site, nyacuradealers.com, where they could access the dealerships' online content on their cell phones.
Paragon Acura in Woodside, N.Y., is one of the three dealerships taking part in the campaign. Brian Benstock, Paragon's general manager, says the ads offer something extra for people who embrace the latest technology.
"We wanted to add value to a print ad and do something that nobody else was doing," Benstock says. "This makes one-dimensional newspaper ads multidimensional. It could be a big deal. It could be a way to marry traditional print with this new technology. Acura buyers are in the know."
A second newspaper ad ran May 9 with the code -- plus instructions on how to use it. The second ad touted a factory incentive program that allows qualified buyers of new 2010 Acuras to purchase the vehicles with no down payment, no security deposit and no first payment.
The other two dealerships in the ad hoc New York Acura Association are Rallye Acura in Roslyn and Acura of Westchester in Larchmont. But more dealerships may join.
Benstock hopes the new-tech ads will prompt the 13 Acura dealerships in his district to form a dealer ad association. He says all but "three or four" have committed to joining the group. It is important that all dealers that stand to benefit from the advertising should help pay for it, Benstock says.
He says: "We wanted to draw in the other Acura dealers who are on the fence."
The advertising campaigns were created by Tier10Marketing.com, which works with dealers, and Level 5 Marketing, which caters to dealer ad associations.
The two Dulles, Va. companies share some of their current ownership and were founded by partners Sean Wolfington, David Boice, Scott Fletcher and Scott Rodgers.