Industry News | May 17, 2010

Napkins No Longer Just for Wiping Your Mouth

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Napkins are a necessary component to any quick serve’s operations, but one company is attempting to make it a necessary component to that same quick serve’s marketing efforts.

Napkins Only, a San Jose, California–based company specializing in the production of custom-printed napkins, released a new line of napkin, the ScanNap, that carries printed QR tags for consumers to use to unlock content using their cell phones and other mobile devices.

“If you think about it, napkins are just this traditionally low-tech throwaway commodity that companies have really never used except to brand … the restaurant’s name,” says Brock Brereton, managing director of Napkins Only.

“In reality, it’s a brilliant advertising medium, because people are going to sit and stare at this thing.”

QR tags are essentially bar codes that can be scanned with a mobile device’s camera. The tag can access and embed exclusive content such as social media, websites, and videos on the device, or even autodial a predetermined phone number, among other things.

Brereton says the ScanNap represents an inexpensive, offline mobile content delivery system for the foodservice industry.

“We can deliver our mobile app directly to the consumer’s handheld mobile device literally for pennies per delivery,” he says.

“All of us have spent a tremendous amount of money developing very rich Web content. There exist very few offline methods to deliver it.”

Brereton says ad agencies for food companies, food retailers, and mobile app developers who want to push content are the ideal ScanNap user. Foodservice giant Aramark is one such foodservice provider Napkins Only is in negotiations with, to provide napkins for sporting venues.

But the quick-service industry, he says, can benefit from the ScanNap’s multitasking system of acting as both a napkin and a billboard.

“In the case of a restaurant, the restaurateur can use his own napkin, which he’s already printing anyway, to make sure that it becomes a content delivery system,” Brereton says.

“It’s not just a dumb napkin, black ink on a white napkin—it actually runs video on your phone.”

By Sam Oches

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