Old world meets new world in this week’s Ad of the Week

For those of you that don’t know me, I’m Portuguese. So, naturally, I am really drawn to today’s viral marketing stunt, which takes place in Portugal. The Portuguese Office of Tourism wanted to increase the number of people who visit the country, but they wanted to do it in a unique and creative way that would get people not only visiting, but talking about the country as well. They wanted to also do something that was distinctly Portuguese. What they came up with was just brilliant.

If you have ever been to Portugal, you have seen their beautiful cobblestones that pave a lot of the streets and sidewalks. Black and white, these stones make up beautiful designs and are as Portuguese to me as the rooster from Barcelos or feijoada.

Because of the pixellated, black and white appearance of these stones, the agency behind this campaign decided to make a QR code out of them. Stones which carry with them over 500 years of history. So they dug up the stones, and reconfigured them into a giant QR code. Once scanned, the code would open up a webpage with information about Portugal, places to visit in the neighborhood that you are in, and historical facts.

But that wasn’t enough for them. They didn’t want to just inform people who were already in Portugal – they wanted to get new tourists to come visit their country. So they took their stones and relocated them to the nearby city of Barcelona, in Spain. Once scanned in Barcelona, people would be directed to a similar website, however this time they were greeted with a coupon for a free night’s stay in Lisbon. All for scanning a QR code.

This campaign was so successful that they then spread it to other major cities, all over the world. So if you have never been to Portugal and you live in Rio, New York, or Hong Kong, you might just come across their famous cobblestones, in the shape of a QR code. Scan it – you’ll get a free night’s stay in a nice hotel. And trust me – from someone who has visited Portugal several times: you want to visit. It is an amazing country.


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