Despite their supposed “cool” factor, QR codes never quite took off here in the U.S .as a form popular form of advertising. That may have been for the best, though, given what’s going down with Heinz. As if their very public spat with French’s wasn’t embarrassing enough, it appears that a German Heinz ad campaign backfired when consumers scanned the QR codes located on the backs of certain bottles, only to find themselves redirected to a porn site.
The domain embedded within the QR code once linked to a Heinz promotional site that allowed people to order special edition bottles of ketchup whose labels could be customized with unique text. Apparently, the promotion only ran from 2012 to 2014, and at some point last year Heinz lost ownership of the domain. The URL appears to have been legitimately acquired by the pornography site FunDorado.
“Your ketchup is probably ;) not for minors,” Daniel Korell, the German ketchup connoisseur who first discovered the corporate slip-up, posted to Heinz’s German Facebook page. “The posted [site comes up whenever] you scan the QR-code on the Heinz bottle. Tested several phones with [different] QR code readers.”
The official Heinz account quickly apologized for their unintended spiciness and offered Korell the customized bottle of ketchup he was presumably looking for, free of charge. To their credit, FunDorado also offered Korell a year’s subscription to it service on the house.
Maybe ketchup really can be spicier than we give it credit for.