For this year’s A of G—the sixth in a series—I’ve gathered some of the worst offenders from the world of marketing: the gaffes, goofs, and boneheaded blunders that we’ll recall for as long as schadenfreude remains in season.
Read ’em and grieve:
Grievance the First.
It was a terrible, horrible, no good idea to give a public relations agency the same name as a famous—and chilling—song about the lynching of black people in the American South. It was a worse idea for Strange Fruit, that selfsame agency, to defend its choice in a series of tweets and a newspaper interview that betrayed the owners’ shallow understanding of a) history and b) public relations.
They had a loose grasp on spelling, too.
Affect, not effect.
Upshot: Within a week of the tweetstorm, Strange Fruit had renamed itself Perennial PR. “From shockingly offensive to completely bland” is how branding expert Devon Thomas Treadwell summed up the change.
Grievance the Second.
Conscious and conscience share an etymology, but only the first word is an adjective. That distinction eluded We’ve, the “cultural gifts store” with the weird and confusing name. (There’s another Weve—no apostrophe—that calls itself “the home of mobile commerce.” Still a bad name.)
“20% off Socially Conscience Gifts through 12/14”
We’ve can’t even get it right in its own tagline.
Fire that intern and hire a salaried proofreader!
Grievance the Third.
Emergen-C powdered vitamin supplement has the right spirit and the wrong spelling in “Support Our Troups.” It’s troops if you’re talking about military personnel, troupes if you’re talking about dancers and actors. That squiggly red line under a word? It should be a tip-off.
Grievance the Fourth.
“Bitting” wit, “trangendered” American … the Rainbow Honor Walk of Fame in San Francisco’s Castro District, unveiled in September, had some infamous misspellings.
Taking strenuous pains to avoid a so-called split infinitive (“publicly to announce”) doesn’t improve matters.
Grievance the Fifth.
“Lightening” strikes twice:
“Lightening fast” (email from Piedmont Grocery, Oakland, received August 26).
Grievance the Sixth.
A flare-up from My Move:
Add personal flair (“distinctive elegance or style”).
And a flair-up from Everlane.
The jacket flares (gradually spreads outward in form).
Grievance the Seventh.
I’m dying here.
You’d think that DL1961, a manufacturer of expensive jeans for men and women, would know that dyeing means “imparting color” and dying means “ceasing to live.” You would, alas, be misinformed.
Grievance the Eighth.
Two fouls from HP, which posted more than $111 billion in revenue this year but apparently couldn’t afford a proofreader.
The color is “burgundy,” just like the wine, the region, and the anchorman.
I’ll take plain old “chared,” thanks.
Grievance the Ninth.
Finding errors in the New York Times (or any other publication) is almost too easy. (Just the other day I spotted “like you and I” in a Sunday Styles story about Taylor Swift.) But in this case, the cringe factor is just too great to overlook. After all, it’s a story about an editor.
It’s still “whom” online, more than five months later.
Grievance the Tenth.
And speaking of editors:
Maybe they should have asked the editing team to proofread this sign before they printed it. pic.twitter.com/gHsrAyiOQ9— Jonathon Owen (@ArrantPedantry) April 18, 2014
Read my past Grievances: 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013. And behold the true story of Festivus, which was invented by Dan O’Keefe in 1966 as a family tradition; O’Keefe’s son Daniel, a writer on “Seinfeld,” borrowed the custom for a 1997 episode.
Happy Festivus to all!