Taking responsibility

An uncomfortable experience. Click for the bad Erlebis.

This post is dedicated to those of us who have published marketing materials and then, to our horror, discovered that there’s a major error. Everyone else spots it straight away – so why didn’t we?

Both of these examples are German. The first one I also didn’t spot. Erlebisse instead of Erlebnisse – click the image for a less pixely picture.

Question: who’s to blame? The agency that worked on the concept and design (and probably supervised production)? The printer (who saw the thing roll off the press)? The graphic designer who did the layout (who may have transferred text incorrectly)? A legal expert (who agreed the promotion)? The product or marketing manager (who owns the budget and probably “owns” the activity)?

The second one is a rare cultural blunder within one country – ie, within the borders of Germany. The people responsible for the business activities discussed above were clearly not from the Baden-Württemberg area of Germany when they designed this poster. So they didn’t know what people from the Baden region are really called. I could ask the same question: who’s to blame?

A bad ‘un in Baden.

(By the way, for non-Germans this is a bit like calling people from Liverpool “Liverpoolers” instead of the correct name – “Liverpudlians”).

Well having worked in this area for far too long now, and having made my own fair share of mistakes – including “obvious” printing errors on packs that ended up in shops – I can say that the person to blame for marketing gaffes is almost always the one who signs it off! And that person should ultimately be the product or marketing manager.

Why? Because in that role you’re responsible for ensuring that everything is matched to the customer. You plan, agree, check and sign off everything – as ambassador to the brand and the customer. You’re the lynch pin, at the hub of the marketing wheel in the matching process. And if anything’s wrong in that matching process, you failed.

And if no one has been officially agreed as the sign-off person, you need to get your house in order!!

Alex Woodruff

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