I saw a piece on the national news about the Miami Police Department and Jay-Z. According to the report, the Miami PD updated their website focusing on gang prevention and how the community should get involved. Good idea … horrible execution however. Whoever was working on the site had laid in an illustration placeholder they had found on Google depicting a group of supposed gang-bangers.
Well, two of the undesirables in the image happened to look a whole lot like hip-hop mogul, Jay-Z. Apparently nobody proofed the site before it went live. Opps!
This is kind of ironic since Jay-Z just appeared on the cover of Forbes with Warren Buffett. And you thought you had stereotype problems.
This got me thinking about an old friend of mine, Eric Gilbert. Eric worked with me on a printing directory I published in Los Angeles twenty years ago. Eric told me about a situation he ran into in his next position as marketing director at Chippendales.
For those of you not familiar with Chippendales, let me fill you in. They were a male stripper revue that became huge in the ’90s. The majority of their revenue came from their annual calendar which sold millions and was only eclipsed in numbers by the Sports Illustration Swimsuit calendar.
To print a project like this required a cooperative agreement with their printer George Rice and Sons in Los Angeles. Because of the size of the print run and enormous cost involved – George Rice agreed to carry the print costs up front in turn for half the revenue. Again, in theory, this sounds like a good deal for both parties. Not so quick though.
Chippendales was responsible for the calendar layout and content, and in turn the press checking. For all of you who have press checked, you know your eye focuses on matching the color of the printed piece to that of the proof provided. Once they match – the client, Chippendales, signs off and the presses run.
One year in the mid ’90s, Chippendales and George Rice went through their annual routine and the calendar was printed. Several million calendars were printed and George Rice started shipping. While packing the boxes to be sent worldwide, one of the shipping clerks on the dock decided to take a look at the calendar. He didn’t make too far however.
As he turned the page to February, he noticed something. February had thirty-one days, or at least according to the Chippendales calendar. Opps! The color was great, the printing was great … but February had thirty-one days – and the calendars, all of them, were worthless.
Somehow everyone involved in the proofing process missed this. And since it was Chippendales that had signed off, they were on the hook. And it was a hook that became fatal.
After a lengthy legal battle, Chippendales was significantly wounded and eventually ended up selling out. All because of a simple proofing oversight. In fact one of the partners was accused of murder and ended up committing suicide.
Stories like this were not common back then. There wasn’t the rush to have everything done and out immediately. Today it’s all about needing it yesterday … often to the detriment of quality and accuracy. And because the use of the internet and digital printing, errors and their ramifications aren’t nearly as drastic.
We see it everywhere, especially with the news media and unsubstantiated stories. And we see it in our basic conversation. Our emails often lack proper grammar and punctuation. And don’t me get me started on texting. I suppose all this is pretty much harmless. But like any action we do … the more we do it, the more it becomes habit.
Let’s just hope this habit doesn’t turn into your own personal Chippendales.
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