Bar codes too big to ignore

By Kristen Franzen

A Chicago-based company has launched an original idea that creates a time-sharing capacity for affordable advertisements. This new idea helps support small and medium businesses. is placing 600-squarefoot quick-response codes around the city. The first QR site is on Printers Row, near the corner of Polk and Clark streets. plans to launch more sites in the near future but uses the South Loop as its testing ground.

The 600-square-foot  billboards feature a code that people can scan daily using  cameras and all smartphones. The code gives users the ability to access a daily deal in their neighborhood.

“We would like to be the first to market [QR codes] to make it as big, large and proud as possible,” said Ted Novak, partner at Clique Studios LLC. “We focused on the South Loop because of Columbia and a lot of residents who use cell phones.”

According to, this is similar to “group-buying.” To receive a QR deal, users show the downloaded coupon image on their smartphone to participating locations for discounts.

Most smartphones come prepared with software that allows the phones to download an application for the QR code reader. The smartphone’s camera acts like a scanner, allowing it to read the QR barcode. When scanned, a user is also able to open a link to a website with more information on the particular message.

“To create a QR code is virtually free,” Novak said.

Palmer Printing, 739 S. Clark St., is affiliated with Clique Studios to help bring local advertising through the use of QR codes. According to a press release, Palmer Printing and Clique Studios are interested in promoting deals to residents. They look to provide local businesses in their neighborhood with deals to benefit the community.

“We wanted to do something to show we’re more than just a printing company, we have more to offer than just ink on paper,” said Chad Kase, web designer at Palmer Printing. “We want to show our customers how to utilize our materials, and we’d like to show our bigger customers their company can utilize this application as well.”

Participants in programs, such as Jimmy Green’s Sports Bar, 825 S. State St., and Blackies restaurant, 755 S. Clark St., receive analytical information, such as the number of people scanning their billboard, according to Novak.

“We thought we would put the QR code on the side of our building to run an advertisement to help the restaurants and businesses in our neighborhood generate income,” Kase said.

The Jimmy Green’s Sports Bar marketing manager said its deal includes two beers and two pizzas for $10.

“From an advertising approach, the cost associated with renting the advertising space on a side of the building is very costly,” Novak said. “It’s charged based on the size of the advertisement as well. At the end of the day, if they were to put a big banner advertisement up, there is no way to tell if it was effective, whereas with QR we’re able to tell how many people scanned it.”

QR codes also create a greener environment for the South Loop.

“We’re able to print the QR code once and consistently change the codes for the phone,” Novak said. “From an environmental stand point, each time you scan the barcode it can be a different deal.”

Clique Studios LLC. has the ability to change the desired URL to which QR will lead. With this ability, outdoor billboards can become more environmentally friendly and save local businesses money. Regular billboards are made up from PVC vinyl, which is a non-recyclable material. QR codes never need to be changed and can always be scanned for a new great deal.

“QR codes are a large cost-saving aspect,” Novak said. “We are able to do things dynamically that [were] traditionally done manually.”