Random House will begin testing a new mobile strategy on July 1 that will see the publisher place QR codes on children’s menus in 139 restaurant locations, including T.G.I. Friday's. 

The four-page black-and-white menus contain various activities for children and include Random House content promoting the publisher’s award-winning picture book, Wild About Books.

The back covers of the menus feature three different QR codes linking users to a mobile app for video, information about the author and illustrator of Wild About Books, and to an interactive portion of the book.

“Parents come into a restaurant with kids and get a kids’ menu,” says Mike Stone, senior vice president of sales at Kids Menu Marketing in Lake Worth, Florida.

“The entire menu is all about the books,” he says. “The children fill out the activities, turn it over to see the menu, and find the QR codes. Most kids know what QR codes are and will say, ‘Mommy look at this.’ Parents are happy because the kids have something to do while they are waiting for their food.”

The Random House–sponsored menus will appear in restaurant locations for chains such as T.G.I. Friday’s, Round Tablet Pizza, Buffalo Wild Wings, Arnold’s Lobster and Clam Bar, and Hurricane Grill and Wings.

The restaurants are located in 13 states, including Florida, New York, Virginia, California, and Delaware.

Kids Menu Marketing will distribute 51,000 of the Random House–sponsored menus a month for three months.

The QR code–enabled menus were developed by Kids Menu Marketing as a way to leverage the fact that restaurant visitors increasingly have a smartphone with them.

For patrons who have children, the kids can often be found playing with these devices while sitting at the table.

The advertiser, in this case Random House, pays for the printing of the menus, and Kids Menu Marketing offers them free to restaurants.

The marketing company is also testing the concept with The Learning Experience, several retail chains, and other brands.

Stone says some marketers are using the QR codes to promote a specific product, while others, such as Random House, are using them to drive awareness of their family-oriented offerings more broadly.

Marketers are increasingly embracing QR codes as a way to easily engage mobile users with brand content while they are on the go, with the 2D bar codes appearing on posters and billboards in areas where there is a lot of foot traffic, on the packaging for items in stores, and in print ads.

“When we did testing with other marketers, the open rates have been in the neighborhood of 20–30 percent,” Stone says. “It is a way for the kids and parents to be totally into this thing without other distractions going on, such as the TV.”

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