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Samuel Adams leverages QR codes to raise awareness of SMB microloan program

Samuel Adams is placing QR codes on posters in bars to support a microloan program for small business owners by making it easy for mobile users to find out more about the initiative.

In restaurants and bars across the country, mobile users will be able to scan QR codes on Samuel Adams posters and signs to access more information and personal stories about the various small businesses involved in the Samuel Adams Brewing the American Dream program. The program is designed to help small business owners through loans and coaching.

?The reason QR codes make sense is that this is just one of many ways to engage people in the cause, the same way J Koch went on morning talk shows such as ?Morning Joe? via MSNBC this morning to raise cause awareness, mobile and QR codes do the same thing, albeit that QR codes on packaging have longer staying power than a three-minute talk show and have a value of allowing the effect of electronic media - TV and Radio - to pull through awareness to engagement,? said Tim Canada, senior account manager at SiteMinis, Atlanta.

Mr. Canada is not affiliated with Samuel Adams and spoke based on his experience in mobile.

Samuel Adams was not able to provide a response by the deadline.

Brewing a dream
The Boston Beer Co., Samuel Adams? parent company, launched the Brewing the American Dream program in 2008 and expanded it nationally in 2012.

For 2013, the company is expanding the program again with goals to provide an additional $1 million in microloans to approximately 100 new small businesses owners and increase coaching and mentoring activities for small businesses throughout the country.

The company is also inviting Samuel Adams drinkers to participate in the program via a new initiative called ?Raise a Pint, Brew a Dream.? From April 15 to May 31, for every Samuel Adams Boston Lager draft sold at participating retail locations nationwide, the company will donate five cents to the program?s microloan fund.

To raise awareness of the initiative, the company is placing posters in bars and restaurants that include QR codes which can be scanned for more information.

Audience overlap
The program has already provided $2 million in loans to 230 small businesses nationwide, coached more than 3,000 small business owners and created or saved nearly 1,400 jobs.

Samuel Adams is the latest of growing pool of national brands that are embracing QR codes as a way to easily provide mobile users with relevant information about their products and programs.

?Consumers are comfortable with using QR codes to access information and QR codes are fast becoming an important method of attracting consumer engagements in an advertiser?s toolbox,? Mr. Canada said.

?As for the Sam Adams brand, QR codes have been used in the last year by almost 30 percent of 18 to 34-year olds - probably a significant demographic for the beer,? he said. ?Also, three of the top four stickiest places QR codes are lifted include magazines, posters and packaging, all ranking above 30 percent in the 18 to 34 year-old demographic.

?Seems like old Sam Adams knows something about its customers and mobile engagement trends.?

Final Take
Chantal Tode is associate editor on Mobile Marketer, New York