JC Penney just launched an integrated campaign, including online, mobile and social. I know: Yawn. The real innovation surrounds the traditional gift tag by making it possible for customers to attach personal voice recorded messages to their purchases using QR codes.

When you buy a gift at a JC Penney store, you will receive a free QR code tag (“Santa Tag”). Fire up your QR code reader, scan the code and attach a personal voice message. The recipient needs to scan the tag with their own QR reader to receive the affixed voice message.

Life just got more complicated.

It used to be easy to receive presents: You open the card, read the note and open the present. Now, you have to grab your smartphone, scan the QR code and then receive an audio message in lieu of a card. This continues to be my problem with QR codes: It’s too complicated, involves too many steps. And the benefit/value is just not good enough.

I’d be more enticed by this promotion if the value proposition was better: A video, more of an experience, something that’s better and more interesting than just a basic audio message. And I seem to be in the minority: On this thread, marketers called the idea cool and brilliant. I call it lazy.

I still think QR codes are just a bridge to more interesting opportunities in that space. But I also think marketers should work harder to get out of the cool ghetto and move into the space where customers really appreciate the value and get something unique out of it.