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As Fox rolls out its fall marketing campaign, the network has fully embraced the use of “quick response” codes throughout print, on-air and outdoor ads.

Those codes — uglier, bitmap cousins to the UPC codes you find in the grocery stores — unlock video and text when fans shoot their camera- and Internet-enabled smartphones in the right direction.

Fox marketing prexy Joe Earley said he has been eager to start using the codes (which the net has rebranded “Fox Codes,” of course) for three years. But Earley didn’t think smartphones had reached enough of a critical mass until this year to start including those intrusive codes in his marketing messages.

“It’s taken this long for there to be enough usage for us to feel secure that we’re not alienating people,” Earley said. “As a broadcaster we still have to be in touch with the general audience. But I felt like this would be the season to do it.”

Earley said the cost is minimal, as the content created for use with the codes was already being generated, and the codes appear in promos and ads already purchased. The only real cost is in man hours, as staffers coordinate content with the codes.

Fox has already created special content to shows such as “Glee,” “Lone Star” and “Fringe.” The codes are flashing on TV via Fox promos (with a “boop” sound, so that viewers don’t think it’s a mistake). They will also be found in ads in transit shelters and mall kiosks and will be included in print spots set to run in TV Guide, US Weekly and other pubs.

“The idea is that in today’s world, everyone always has their smartphone with them,” Earley said. “We want to talk to young, savvy viewers who have a smartphone and want to launch these applications. Unlike a website that you visit, where the content is gone when you close the browser, if we give you a musicvideo, it’s with you at any time.”

Fox, of course, is far from the only entity using QR codes; entities from the Gap, Polo Ralph Lauren and even New York garbage trucks have utilized the technology. In entertainment, features such as “District 9” have been marketed via codes.

But Fox’s usage reps the most extensive yet by a network in a major campaign.

“We’re not claiming to be ahead of the curve, but we do want to be at the forefront of the curve,” Earley said.