Shreyas Kulkarni

Dunzo delivers a QR code ad during IPL finals seemingly inspired by Coinbase’s Super Bowl spot

A QR code flashed across a black screen. Excellent creative execution or why do it in the first place?

Dunzo’s newest ad which aired during the IPL 2022 finals has caught the eye of many a viewer. How could it not? During the ad breaks where brands did their best to tell their story in 10 seconds, here was a 20-second spot disguised as a television glitch that only displayed a QR code against a black backdrop with the message, “Inconvenience is regretted. Scan for convenience.”

The first part of the messaging was a smart nod to the old days when TV signals would face interruption and viewers would be left either staring at a blank or a screen with columns of different colours. Viewers who managed to scan the QR code through their smartphones were led to download the Dunzo app.

Kabeer Biswas, CEO, Dunzo, in a LinkedIn post, revealed the brand on 29 May 2022 saw a 10x spike in traffic when the QR code campaign ran, highest order volume was surpassed by a massive margin, and that it now runs 2mn weekly orders that has doubled over the period of its campaign that began two months ago.

Many struggled because 20-seconds was too short a time unlike American crypto exchange Coinbase’s eerily similar Super Bowl ad early this year (2022); its QR code hung around for a minute on people’s screens. “I understand that Super Bowl had done this, but this was for a massive number of people in India, it was an original advert,” remarks Sraman Majumdar, senior creative director, Brave New World

Dunzo has advertised through the IPL and as per Economic Times in April 2022, “Dunzo has allocated Rs 40 crore for IPL spends on campaigns, marketing channels.” Adding to this is the fact that IPL 2022 ad rates cost brands about Rs 14 lakh on average, up from Rs 10 lakh in 2018, Dunzo shelled out serious money for the finals.

Majumdar says nobody consumes TV content, especially sports-related, without having a second screen at hand. “If there is a seamless transition into the ad space that feels like a glitch, people will take a look at it.”

However, he was cautious about anyone who tries to mimic this ad. “It’s a novelty when done for the first time, it will be less effective when replicated for the second time and the returns will be grossly diminishing,” he says and adds that if the accompanying message gave this format some kind of Dunzo ownership, then anybody else who does it, will seem to have copied Dunzo.

Creative consultant L Suresh, on the other hand, feels “many would have grabbed their mobiles, scanned the code and downloaded the app? I can only hazard a guess and say, very few. (And, I doubt if Dunzo would share numbers after Sunday's IPL final, especially if they were abysmal.)”

He says many simply thought it was a broadcast glitch. Others were not too happy with the 'interruption'. “This may work better in a digital context, where the TA is a lot more defined (or can be chosen with specific parameters) and the desired response (of scanning the QR code and downloading the app) could meet with greater success.”

Speaking about viewers downloading the app, he says Dunzo would not have expected a flurry of downloads itself. “It probably did this for effect - to get people talking about it and create a buzz on social media. If that was the case, I think it has been fairly successful in its task.”

Suresh, however, was cautious too. He says startups can go on this joyride and spend money on an ad just to become a talking point. “With an impending recession, let's see how many more of these we'll get to see in the coming months.”

The QR code did catch many viewers’ eye but the brand, for a while, has doled out ads focusing on its quick commerce offering ‘Dunzo Daily’ that delivers fresh groceries to your doorstep in 19 minutes. The brand, in its ads, questions the need for a refrigerator when it delivers you fresh groceries in a jiffy.

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