Teaching Old Dogs New Tricks

16 02 2011

There is probably no event in the US that is more old school than the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show. Owners in suits and dresses trot alongside canines with fancy names like Vaje’s Miss Jayne Hathaway and Tolkien Raintree Mister Baggins. Everyone is prim and proper.

Which is why it’s about the last place I would expect to be abuzz with social media and ultra modern marketing methods.

Apparently I’ve been barking up the wrong tree, because to read reports out of this week’s show, the folks in the stands were twitterpated with all things social and techno. (You’ll have to read pretty far down to get to the part about everyone being on FB, Twitter and YouTube.)

But perhaps one of the biggest surprises I heard about was one dog owner using a QR code (that’s marketing-speak for Quick Response) on his pet’s cage. Anyone with a smartphone (and a QR app) could scan the little boxy bar code and be whisked off to the dog’s website.

Yeah. A dog with a website.

It’s almost like the Westminster Show has become as hip and cool as Austin’s SXSW festival in March. The only differences are the clothing and tattoos.

If your sense of what is right and wrong is aghast at such an upwardly noble (and no doubt mobile) group as the Westminster Kennel Club going to the social media dogs, please relax. No, we cannot say “What is this world coming to?” Actually, we can say, “Hey, it’s about time all of you join us on the other side!”

The snarky side of me also wonders when not just one dog, and not just a handful of clever marketers, but all of us will sport a QR tag around our neck. What better way to market oneself? Or let’s go one better and just get the tattoo. Prospective employers and suitors as well as adoring fans and friends could scan you and instantly have access to your full and complete backstory.

I mean, everything you want to share.

Truth be known, these little QR codes are already around us in more places than we realize. This past Christmas while at Florida’s Busch Gardens, I noted them on park signage surrounding the construction area of a new attraction. I have seen them in print ads (newspaper and magazine). And I have seen them on other public signage, such as in subways.

While the Westminster group may be a case of teaching old dogs new tricks, perhaps it is we who are the dogs desperately in need of further evolving. While I don’t get suited up to take my dog for a walk (trust me, he would never remotely qualify for Westminster), I have yet to get a QR of my own. I have the app, but maybe not the aptitude.

Which means that maybe it is I who is prim and proper, when I should be more primal and improper. I’m just trying to bark up the right tree, but no matter how hard I try, it seems like I am faced with the reality of no dog waiting on another.

Dr “At Least I Don’t Have One Of Those Fancy Names” Gerlich

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