Oh la Vache – Cows get QR branded

Where once cowboys branded steers with red hot irons, farmers today do it with edible-painted QR codes …  at least that’s the story in Morbihan and they’re sticking with it.

Red-hot pokers retire as QR codes takeover

(Read more French News here)
While cows from the south of the country are sometimes regarded as crazy Catalan marauders those from the north-east would appear to be an altogether more civilised high-tech breed as local dairy farmer, ‘Gildas le Behoc’, is apparently happy to attest in this video clip:

Steer hot-iron brands (at least where those of any self-respecting star in the old spaghetti-Westerns is concerned) used to be simple combinations of the ranchers’ initials, while QR codes are intricate jumbles of computer-generated pixels. So why would a farmer want all this bother?

Scanning the QR code brings up this cow scratchcard

According to ‘Gildas le Behoc’, its because the code is linked to a scratch card game (see image above) accessible via a mobile phone. If a punter is lucky enough to scratch-up 3 cows on the mobile app he/she can claim a prize at the farm shop.

Here inevitably Gildas will set about convincing visitors to “try a bit of the local cheese, some fresh cream perhaps, a litre of unpasteurised milk and some vegetables and fruit from his potager and orchards”,  em fim a far more modern form of direct selling than a billboard or a signpost cluttering up highways and byways in rural Morbihan.

Great, except the video was all a hoax and then suddenly it wasn’t. Confused? Stay with us.

For according to the website QR dresscode where the whole viral video stir started in the first place (getting a claimed 50,000 views in a matter of days):

• These are real cows, on a real Morbihan farm
• The cows truly were stenciled with code (using edible ink of course)
• The cows really were scannable
• There is a real scratch game behind the QR code

While on the other hand ….:
• Gildas the farmer is an (excellent) actor
• The extras in the video are all friends and very excited about the QR code project taking place in the meadow

In fact the viral marketing operation was reportedly created by a group of “crazy tech-passionate Morbihan new media fans” and, their website adds, the  truth is: “We all had a really good time.”

But most importantly is that remarkably since this hoax video first went viral, it has become true : two Breton farmers already doing direct selling from  farmer to  consumer are now reportedly (see below)  involved in implementing QR to boost sales.

Furthermore, according to the makers of the original hoax film, this photo of a contented QR cow shows how their idea has been adapted and become a reality, (or are they still pulling our legs ?)

In reality this is how one farmer has adapted the hoax (or is this a leg-pull too)

If you scan the code around the cow’s neck it takes you to the same website mentioned above to play the scratch moo game:

For the Penn da Benn de Séné (Golfe du Morbihan) farm has decided to play the cow scratch game for real as shown in  photos to be found here.

Gaelle and Fabrice Menard, the farmers concerned offer a  litre of milk and 4 organic yogurts to all scratch card winners who visit their farm store. A draw at the end of the season will win a trip to the weekend guest cottage on the farm, located in a nature  and tourism reserve, provided scratch card players  leave  their email on the gaming platform.

Scanning the QR code  takes you to the Bookbeo website  where the Gratt’Meuh! or Scratch Moo card is found. If the lucky player scratches 3 squares uncovering cows, he wins.

According to the QR Dress Code website report  the farmers change the code on the necklaces daily while in the late afternoon Gaelle and Fabrice welcome between 5 and 20 visitors to participate in cow milking. Now apart from the intricacies of pulling teats  they will also have to explain the reasons for the cow collars and the indecipherable codes!

The hoaxers are well pleased with themselves claiming they have unwittingly created a new business opening  for hard-pressed farmers and helped to build traffic to their point of sale — i.e. farm shops – something  they believe should be of interest far beyond agriculture!

And so to  the list of  credits on the QR Dress Code website  and bear with us, they will  help you answer our own little quizz below:

“The viral marketing operation was created by a group of mad, tech-passionate Morbihan new media fans and here they all are :
QR Dress Code  which conceived the mad idea of tagging cows;
Production Plural: the Lorient communication agency which produced and directed the film as if it were a TV report;
My QReation the site that prints custom made QR coded t-shirts and supplied those shown in the film;
History of the Giraffe which produces personalized books for children and provided the image of Geek the QR cow (from a book customized with QR codes);
Imagypress and Mediaoptim – PR Agencies, web marketing, QR Codes and new technology enthusiasts who mapped the route for pushing the film to the mainstream media;
Bookbeo, the mobile phone marketing agency which developed the scratch game “cows to scratch”;
Behoc Gildas, our fabulous farmer, whose real name is Gildas Puget.He is an actor in the street performers troupe: “Quality Street” they play all over France and their shows are hilarious;
Lastly special thanks to the farmers who so graciously welcomed our mad ideas and put up with us as well as to the cows, all back to their natural colours, thanks to the Breton rain.

So there you are.  Now try our little quiz.Was the agency promoting:
Geek, the QR cow personalized books;
Quality Street;
None of the above and still confused.

Intrigued by it all this writer asked a nearby farmer neighbour if he thought the technology might be useful to him. Said farmer  just raised his eyes and asked  “who has time for these type of games. We are in the field until 10 pm most evenings just keeping the place  running!”
Yep back to basics then, as we mentioned in earlier story, and look where he’s got to with no mobile and certainly no QR code.

Still if you insist and want your own code, try here at QArt Coder. Ours is shown below:

No prizes for scanning our QR but it will take you to the home page

Puzzled by the headline? Try this website — Oh La Vache — for a full explanation of the most popular bovine-associated expressions in the French language.  

Story: Ken Pottinger


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