back to article Heinz cockup sees Ketchup's QR codes spurt saucy sites

A chap named Daniel Korell got quite a surprise when, in late May, he scanned the QR code on a bottle of Heinz Hot Tomato Ketchup, as the bottle led him to pornography rather than information about the comdiment. Korrell's Facebook post on the matter depicts a bottle of sauce that bears a promotion for a site we think is …

  1. psyvenrix
    Joke

    now there's a domain that just shot up in value...

  2. frank ly

    "... and offered Korrell a new bottle of sauce."

    Would this be a bottle that doesn't have a porn-pointing QR code on the label?

    1. Phuq Witt

      Re: "... and offered Korrell a new bottle of sauce."

      It was the least they could do. I hear the chap was so disgusted he put his foot through the old bottle and sent Heinz the bill.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "... and offered Korrell a new bottle of sauce."

        > It was the least they could do.

        According to the Gruaniad's report the porn site offered him a free subscription too...

    2. MiguelC Silver badge

      Re: "... and offered Korrell a new bottle of sauce."

      Why, did he spill his sauce the first time?

  3. Flat Phillip
    Coat

    I have heard the movies on that site are a bit saucy

    Someone had to say it. I'll go now.

    1. Ken Y-N
      Coat

      Re: I have heard the movies on that site are a bit saucy

      Indeed, 69 varieties of sauce.

      Get mine too while you're over there.

  4. Smitty Werben Jueger Man Jenson

    Plausable deniability

    I think there might be a reason why it wasn't caught until now...

    http://picturesofpeoplescanningqrcodes.tumblr.com/

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Plausable deniability

      http://wtfqrcodes.com/

  5. This post has been deleted by its author

    1. Colin Miller

      QR codes are just plaintext. By convention it's a URL, but that's not required.

      The safer thing to do is have the QR contain heinz.de/promo which is a redirect to the real promo site. That way, when the promo ends, the redirect can be changed to a page that reads 'We are sorry, but the promotion has ended. Please enjoy the exciting Heinz Germany site'. The promo site can then be left to expire.

      1. Cuddles Silver badge

        "A chap named Daniel Korell got quite a surprise when, in late May, he scanned the QR code on a bottle of Heinz Hot Tomato Ketchup"

        Bet he wasn't half as surprised as Heinz were that someone had actually scanned a QR code.

        @Colin MIller

        "The safer thing to do is have the QR contain heinz.de/promo"

        Shouldn't that be heinz.de/porno?

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "The safer thing to do..."

        This QR code problem is just a sub-set of a wider problem. Marketing engage "specialist" digital marketing companies to handle this for them. These companies are never going to get access to the client's domain so they either set up a domain that includes their client's name or just use their own. And that applies not just to promotional websites but also email shots, surveys - anything and everything. This trains the general public into accepting anything that claims to come from their bank, their govt, their sauce maker or anyone else actually is from them and clicking without a second thought.

        It really needs to be a sackable offence to commit any digital marketing initiative without getting sign-off from IT security.

        1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "These companies are never going to get access to the client's domain"

          A sub-domain is do-able though, eg promo201506.heinz.de

  6. Ken Moorhouse Silver badge

    The link was rejected by Heinz...

    ...because the contents moved at a speed greater than 0.028 miles/hour

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    This is what happens when marketing people dream up short term gimmicks without considering the wider implications.

    1. Stevie

      This is what happens when marketing people

      But these are the same people who came up with the idea of changing the aspect ration of paperback books without changing the aspect ration of the printed content because people buy books if they are bigger than the ones next to them on the bookshelves.

      As opposed to because others recommended them or they were recommended by critics in genre magazines or because the Amazon precis looked interesting.

      All that extra whitespace can't be wrong.

      They are also the "brains" behind making paperbacks the same size as hardbacks, which means the actual portable paperbacks need a new term, something that will make people want to buy the bigger ones out of shame, I dunno, how about mass-market paperbacks. Sort of lower class doncherno. And it makes the ugly, heavy and awkward big paperbacks more attractive because they are now more upmarket.

      Also the people who came up with The Noid just so a certain pizza company could print "avoid the Noid" on their boxes.

      Such people simply aren't equipped to understand the concept of "long-term consequences". They live in the largely make-believe world of instant gratification for a need they think they just made you believe you have.

      Though my hat is off to the Dunlop Groundhog and Cadbury's Smashers TV marketers. Didn't make me want to buy tyres or instant mashed potatoes, but did entertain. This side of the pond we had the Energizer vs Supervolt and Joe Isuzu campaigns of the 90s, which also entertained without inducing the urge to buy.

      Nowadays the TV marketers just make the ads much louder than the programs they interrupt, which brings me back to my "Brainless Fucktard" thesis.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "You say toe-MAH-toe, I say toe-MAY..."

    "...sweet-mother-of-mercy-he'll-never-fit-that-in-there"

  9. Grikath
    Devil

    "Comdiment" ?

    Come on El Reg.. Go whole hog and use that "U". We know you want to...

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Heinz, eh?

    Were the young ladies on the smut site flicking their beanz?

  11. TheProf Silver badge
    Happy

    Good work have a raise

    I'm impressed with the porn employee who was smart enough to buy the expired site knowing millions* of curious ketchup users will soon QRing to see their wares.

    (* millions not guaranteed.)

  12. Ian 62

    I've always thought QR codes were an exploit waiting to happen.

    Here's a box of random squres, do you want to go to whatever site it may be?

    I'm amazed no one has started printing their own on sticky labels, and pasting them over the 'official' ones on adverts and posters. 'Oh look a QR code on a poster for new shiny product, click, Oh thats strange it took me to malware.r.us.'

    1. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Devil

      I'm amazed no one has started printing their own on sticky labels

      I'm amazed you haven't noticed it's being done.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        WTF?

        I read about this type of re-stickering of QR codes sometime ago, (and which led people to pr0n and malicious sites) which led me to the question:

        Why use something like QR codes for accessing content on the internet? No one but the QR reader can decipher the code.

        Does anyone else see the folly here? Or are my X-ray spex working overtime?

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "Does anyone else see the folly here?"

          Of course we do. But we're not the ones making the decisions.

        2. xslogic

          Because they take up less space, cause less "errors" in typing and everybody has a smartphone, obviously.

          Apart from the fact they take up more space, cause errors like this and I'm in the minority of not actually having a smartphone*, that is.

          *Well, I do have one. It's a cast off I got when somebody moved up to the latest model. I occasionally use it to watch video, but my SIM card is too big to fit in it.

          1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            "but my SIM card is too big to fit in it."

            Pop down to your local independent phone shop and they will have a little tool that will cut it to size for you. Couple of quid at most. Or ask your service provider for a replacement micro sim, they might do that for free depending on if it's a contract one or not.

        3. Old Handle

          A sensible QR reader will sure the the URL first and ask if you want to go there or not. If yours doesn't do this, try a different one.

  13. chivo243 Silver badge

    Mmm good

    spicy tomatoes!

  14. Captain Scarlet Silver badge
    Coffee/keyboard

    lax domain name maintenance

    "once the promotion concluded, Heinz lost interest in the domain"

    I've been firing stuff at Marketing like "This domain for promotion x is a year old and gets 2 views a month. It costs money so is it going to be reused or can I get rid of it?", I thought just leaving domains not used by anyone for 10 years would be lax maintenance. Fingers crossed no QR codes are on the products we produce here or else I'm the scapegoat.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: lax domain name maintenance

      Why not suggest using domains like promotionname.yourcompany.com or if not yourcompany.com at least some long-lived domain instead of a new one for each.

      Maybe that's a use case for paying $185K for a TLD with your company's name, then it is simply changing "promotionname.com" to "promotionname.yourcompany". Not that I want the idiotic TLD expansion, but if it is fait accompli might as well put it to good use.

    2. Old Handle

      Re: lax domain name maintenance

      I donno how much a .de domain costs, but in general anything other than fancy .word domains are cheap. About the price of... say five bottles of ketchup. Registering a domain for a few extra years just to make sure no one snags it while your promotional materials are still in circulation seems like a very reasonable precaution to me.

      Ten years would probably be overkill, but at least it should expire no sooner than the ketchup in the bottle it's printed on.

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