In 2012, brands really dialed up their efforts in creating compelling and engaging calls to action. In contrast to 2011, where brands often stumbled figuring out ways to integrate mobile into existing campaigns, 2012 saw brands make huge strides on the road to seamless mobile experiences.

Below are MobileDemystified’s choices for the best and worst CTAs of 2012 (special shout out to the Art of the CTA buzz awards for tracking all the candidates). Please let us know of any other deserving candidates by posting to the comments.

Best use of surroundings: Guinness

Now I realize that this CTA is not the most practical on the planet, but what a cool idea to use a product to create an actual QR code. Certainly creative, Guinness demonstrated a novel way to integrate the digital and physical worlds (to be clear, I did not like this campaign in terms of execution, as very little came from scanning the QR code).

Jamba Juice also deserves a nod here for their cool-looking strawberry 2D code, as does the Dezeen Hotel for its mobile-augmented hotel room.

Most Novel Use Case: Target

We talked about this already, but I loved using mobile as a recruiting tool. Very innovative, timely and solid call to action.

Most egregiously slapped on QR Code: Dale Carnegie Training

If you read the Art of the CTA, you know that the dreaded slapped on QR code is one of the biggest no-no’s in mobile marketing. Without being integrated into styling, messaging or branding, mobile CTAs just don’t carry that much weight. More worrisome about this particular CTA: its location. Appearing in an in-flight magazine on a plane without Wifi made linking to a mobile website fairly difficult.

Runner-up goes to American Express. Though stylistically no better than Dale Carnegie, the 2D code did appear in an area with internet connectivity.

Best non-monetary incentive: Grey Poupon

Given brands’ search for effective, non-monetary incentives, Grey Poupon’s list exclusivity tactic demonstrates solid, innovative thinking.

Best Online Sign-Up: Heineken

Integrated branding, metadata capture, multiple points of contact, clear incentive to sign up…the list goes on and on. Heineken nailed it with their Red Star Access CTA.

Weirdest: Anonymous

For whatever reason this CTA stuck with me all year.

Worst: Sprite

Of course, an award for worst CTA is hard to give out. Not trying to offend anyone, and there are a lot of deserving candidates out there. But Sprite “wins” worst CTA of the year due to poor execution and unmet expectations. I wrote about the Sprite CTA in depth if you want more background, but this campaign needed more continuity and more consistency to achieve success (aside: Sprite has a lot of pieces in the right place, e.g. cross-channel presence and an understanding of its audience, so perhaps they can bounce back in 2013).

Runner-up in this category would be the SF Giants for their sleepover initiative. Great idea and compelling CTA, but a lack of follow-up derailed the campaign.

Best Incentive: Participant Media/TakePart

Text a keyword to a short code. Plant a tree. Phenomenal.

Best Integration of multiple channels: Beck’s

The seamless way Beck’s CTAs integrated SMS and QR codes in 2012 is worthy of high praise.

Shout out to Krave here as a runner-up.

Best IVR: Stella

Awesome incentive and extremely cool use case. Big ups to Stella on a job well done.

Best: PETA

Incentive? Check. Clarity? Check. Strategy? Check. Compliance? Check. Secret Sauce? Check. That’s all it takesExcellent job and hats off to PETA.

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