This year, global ad spend is set to hit $745 billion. And that doesn’t even include formats like webpages, signage, packaging, and organic social. When you add it all up, one thing is clear: companies are creating an incredible amount of content.
In our Year In Review report, 68% of advertising and marketing professionals said their workload increased and 60% said deadlines became more demanding. In many cases, this is causing a last-minute scramble to get work across the finish line.
And that’s where mistakes slip through the net.
Some are just typos – a little bit embarrassing, but not a huge deal. Others are so clearly racist that you wonder how they ever got made. And then there are those that leave you explaining to the Queen why her “Platinum Jubilee” will now go down in history as the “Platinum Jubbly”. (See number five.)
So without further ado, here are six pieces of content that never should have been signed off. Plus, top tips on how to avoid these mistakes yourself.
1. Waitrose – Yes, it’s too long
So many questions. How did the writer share their copy? Why couldn’t they include a note or comment, instead of asking if it’s too long at the end of the paragraph? And, on that point, how long was the previous version?! Is there really that much to say about a pack of vegan fish fingers?
How to avoid this mistake: always proofread your work.
2. Reebok – Eveything will be OK
Oh, Reebok. How many people saw this ad before it hit the streets of New York? I’m guessing a copywriter, art director, designer, project manager, and account manager. That’s before it even got to the client or media company. As a conservative estimate, I’d say at least 10 people were involved in creating this ad. And even though the headline is only 14 words long, not one of them noticed that “EVEYTHING” is missing the “R”.
How to avoid this mistake: always proofread your work. Twice.
3. WWF – WTF were you thinking?
Shock tactics. I get it. They’re a brilliant way to cut through the apathy towards climate change and make people act. But playing on a devastating terror attack that killed almost 3,000 people and triggered the Iraq War isn’t just crossing the line. In the words of Joey Tribbinai, “the line is a dot to you”.
How to avoid this mistake: share your idea with someone outside your organization. Literally, anyone.
4. Heineken – Racism (part 1)
I know what you’re thinking. Heineken knows people like the strength of their lager, so this tagline is simply celebrating the new, lighter version. But then you watch the TV ad, where a beer slides past three black people before being picked up by a lighter-skinned woman. And now you’re asking yourself, what were they thinking?
As Chance The Rapper pointed out on Twitter: “I think some companies are purposely putting out noticeably racist ads so they can get more views.”
How to avoid this mistake: diversify your team and stakeholders.
5. The Platinum Jubilee – Lovely jubbly
Typos. They’re the simplest mistakes to make and, in most cases, the easiest to miss. But when 10,000 pieces of crockery arrived in the UK celebrating Queen Elizabeth II’s Platinum “Jubbly”, it was impossible to ignore. Oh, to be a fly on the wall when the Queen found out. The cups and plates are now being sold as collectors’ items.
How to avoid this mistake: always review a proof of your artwork before starting production.
6. PlayStation Portable – Racism (part 2)
You know when you see ads from the ‘30s and ‘40s and wonder how brands were ever so blatantly racist? Well, this ad from Sony in the Netherlands came out as recently as 2006. It’s safe to say that it was quickly shot to pieces online before being pulled.
How to avoid this mistake: never use black vs. white as a marketing theme.
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You can set up review steps for different stakeholder groups, making sure you get approval from all the right people before publishing your work.
So instead of embarrassing typos, misprints, and questionable concepts, you can deliver work you’re proud of every time.
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