200 Scan QR Code and “Plan Your Visit” at Playhouse Square

Playhouse Square just began experimenting with QR code last fall. Thus far, 200+ smartphone and mobile devices have scanned their code.

Playhouse Square, the nation’s 2nd largest performing arts center outside New York, has had at least 200 scans of their QR code since first launching them last fall, landing visitors either on their video content (Vimeo and You Tube branded channels) or “Plan Your Visit” content on Playhouse Square website.

“We’ve experimented with QR codes in our playbills, season catalog, report to the community and the back of tickets,” says Steve Citerin, marketing and public relations manager at Playhouse Square.  “They’ve been used to engage the viewer directly with video content or “plan your visit” content.

Playhouse Square’s Vimeo Plus, who began offering HD online video since October 2007 and owned by IAC/InterActiveCorp, has 172 HD online Videos (for $59.95/year) as possible landing pages for their QR code scans. Also available are 172 matching videos on their branded You Tube Channel.

QR code or “quick response” is a 2-dimensional bar-code able to carry more data across mobile applications; all QR code applications are relevant to smartphone and wi-fi enabled mobile devices.  They are becoming common in email signatures, product reviews, and business cards.

Despite the variety of outlets where QR codes can be placed, success using them is tricky. “To date we’ve had limited success, a couple hundred (scans) thus far across all efforts,” said Citerin.  “We’re not satisfied with the results to date, but we will continue to integrate them more aggressively over time, as the public’s use of them will become more commonplace.”

The mainstream use of QR code has been reached based on the number of available smartphone and wireless subscribers.

QR codes are accesable via smartphone users.  300,000 Android smartphones are activated everyday, surpassing Apple iPhone, 270,000 new subscribers, daily.  And according to Nielsen research on smartphone trends, feature phones are expect to converge and be surpassed by smartphones by 2011 Q3.

QR code is still a novel concept in mobile marketing applications.  Capstone Media learned how the Cleveland Art Museum used them to promote their new galleries when users scanned them to hear a mobile audio tour off their cell phones, receiving 400 scans. One of the areas Playhouse has not yet explored is QR code’s application in social gaming and incentives such as prizes, contests or discounts.  Playhouse Square’s Facebook (7,286 Likes) offers an “Exclusive” tab, where if you “Like” their page you get 10% off South Pacific tickets. Arts organizations already have an existing community in which they wish to engage in including the growing number of non-profit volunteers reaching nearly 2 million people core committed group to the arts, according to the National Arts Index.  Every business/organization has two forms of marketing: programmatic (or product/service) and institutional (or branding).  QR code is a programmatic effort to attract a marginal and younger demographic.

Despite the lower than expected scan results to date, Playhouse Square has had a successful season “due to having shows people want to see this season and continually refining our marketing mix,” says Cisterin. “We use TV, print, radio, billboards, online and direct mail/email communications.  TV, print and direct tend to be high on the priority list, with online growing in importance as well.” Developing QR code is free.  Having original content such as HD online video and “plan your visit” relevant content offers landing pages for ROI data and analyticsfor monitoring web traffic.


Cleveland Art Museum QR Code Shawabtys and Cista Handles for Gallery Tour.”  Capstone Media.  August 21, 2010.

QR Complements Campaign at Cleveland Art Museum to Draw Attendance.”  Capstone Media.  December 15, 2010.

ABOUT:   Playhouse Square is a non-profit performing arts center founded in 1921.  Playhouse Square is the nation’s 2nd largest performing arts center outside of New York City and has over 1,000 events annually.  Every year they raise $4 million of which, $1 million goes to arts education, gifting the local economy with over $43 million in value added services.