I know I’ve been talking about advertising a fair amount lately, but I hope you’ll indulge me in one more take on the subject. If it helps any, today’s focus is not TV commercials. We’re taking a look at poorly thought out and poorly presented print advertising.

Notice anything wrong about this ad? (Kate, I know you do. Give the rest of the group a minute to spot it.)

It’s an interesting bit of technology, intended to solve a real-world problem. Unfortunately, the virtues of the product are undercut by the advertising department’s mistake.

Here me now: Unless there’s a deliberate joke involved (see, for instance, Chick-fil-A’s “Eat Mor Chikin” ads*), it is never acceptable to release an ad with a misspelled word.

* Great ads, deplorable corporate practices. But that’s beside the point today.

Does the copywriter know the difference between “hear” and “here”? It’s possible they don’t–their spellchecker would have flagged “hereing” after all.

But how does a blooper like this slip past? Does the company not realize there’s a difference between a copywriter and a copyeditor? Or were they too cheap to pay for a copyedit? If so, makes you wonder what they’re doing with the $120 bucks they take in for each set of headphones. (Yes, that is the price; I had to trim the photo.)

Stupid, easily avoidable mistakes like this one give a poor impression of the company. At some level, anyone who sees it is going to associate poor quality control in an advertisement with poor quality control of the actual product.

Moving on.

There’s nothing wrong with this ad.

Okay, let me amend that. Regardless of one’s feelings about King’s Hawaiian buns and bread, the actual ad here is reasonable. It gives prominence to the unique feature of the product (an–IMNSHO–overly sweet roll), communicates the price and the product variations (beef and chicken), and incorporates a relevant tagline.

Perfectly legit.

The problem is that the advertisers (the Sonic chain of drive-in restaurants) didn’t consider all of the ways and places they’d be hyping the product.

What works well in a full-page graphic format doesn’t work so well in a text-only medium where space is constrained. Like, say, an LED ad board outside the restaurant.

Simplifying the message to “Try our King’s Hawaiian Clubs” points the viewer in the wrong direction:

That’s a real King’s Hawaiian club, and yes, those are shark’s teeth around the perimeter. This is not something to sink your teeth into; it’s something that’ll sink its teeth into you.

(The maker of that particular weapon, by the way, sells a variety of related products. They look great and the prices are reasonable for what they are. I could quibble with some of the text on that webpage–I’d have said “indigenous” rather than “endemic”, for example–but most of my objections are concerns over artistic matters rather than effectiveness or appropriateness.)

It’s an oversight on the advertiser’s part. Not fatal–the context of the ads plays a part in conveying the message–but vexing.

Plan ahead, consider alternate points of view and possible misinterpretations, and–especially where multiple cultures are involved–include people from a variety of backgrounds on your planning team.

10 thoughts on “Misinterpretation

  1. In a State race today. I voted for a primary challenger despite one severe misgiving: The signs and campaign material bearing her name also sport an outline of the state of Virginia with what are, I’m sure, meant to be tree roots twining out of the southern border. She has Virginia roots. Cool.

    Except that, given the shape of the state, the goddam thing looks like a Portuguese Man O’War. The candidate is a jellyfish? The candidate has stingers?

    I’ve *designed* campaign signs, and a top rule is Keep It SImple, which includes no complicated or weird images. Raises questions about judgement. As in the bony hereing ad, not enough people looked at it closely.

    I remember when there used to be copyeditors. They drove me bughouse when I was a stringer for the local rag, but I appreciated them.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m almost afraid to say it, but I might be inclined to vote for a candidate who has stingers. Maybe it’s petty of me, but I’d love to see an elected representative with options beyond yelling, bribery, and filibustering.

      “If you don’t vote for my bill, I’ll force you to pee on your own arm right here on the floor.”

      (By and large, I’m glad I don’t have a copyeditor here on the blog, but if I don’t get one when I find a book publisher, I’m gonna be annoyed.)

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Good grief, sometimes I wonder both about you and at you. Stuff I’d never consider.

    The error in the first ad smacked me right in the fez immediately. At least, they spelled “sweat” correctly.

    There’s as much chance of my buying one of these, thanks to the unprofessional quality of the ad, than eating at Chik-fil-A. God knows what else they skimped on.


    • Good point. On the other hand, they had a fifty/fifty chance of getting it right.

      By the way, that IP55 rating they mention in connection with sweating means that the device won’t be harmed by “water projected by a nozzle”. I suppose you could consider pores to be nozzles, but still…Projectile sweating?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.