And This, Friends, is Why Proofreaders Exist. John Frieda Flubs Grammar

John Frieda
Although it can be disappointing at times, I’ve come to accept that people often make grammar mistakes that are usually easily avoidable. Whether it’s a misused “your/you’re” issue or a simple typo, mistakes happen. I understand. However, I hold large companies with professional marketing and advertising teams to a much higher level. These people are paid (I’m guessing) hefty salaries to write the ads and double, triple, and quadruple check them to make sure they’re accurate before sending them off to the TV world to show everybody. Apparently the team at John Frieda was so concerned about how sleek and shiny their hair was that they didn’t notice that they used the wrong form of “its.”

This is a recent commercial for haircare company John Frieda’s “Sheer Blonde” line of products, and most of the ad is spoken with models flipping their hair all over the place with sultry glares on their faces. It’s only a 15 second commercial, and–like in any ad–every nanosecond counts because there’s a better chance of blowing it than connecting with a consumer. Unfortunately, though, I think this commercial (at least in my perspective) falls into that former category.

At one point in the spot, the narrator explains that this shampoo/conditioner will make hair look “its best and its brightest.” One small problem: displayed on the screen was “it’s best and it’s brightest.” Now, I try really hard on a daily basis to not berate people for their incorrect grammar. I’ve been getting better at holding in my corrections and letting it go. But this is a national commercial for a global brand–not some mom and pop shop that’s creating its own ads while running a company and managing a family at the same time.

I think part of the reason why this bugs me is that it’s a simple mistake. There are all kinds of slogans that technically use incorrect grammar (“Think Different,” “Got Milk,” “Eat Fresh”) but these aren’t quite so blatant. Many people may not notice that there’s something wrong with them (then again, many people may not notice John Frieda was wrong, either). But a simple misplaced apostrophe can make a brand look lazy, inattentive, or just plain uneducated. And when there’s so much on the line (like future business and customers) that can potentially hurt the company.

Am I exaggerating? Can this really hurt a brand so much? “It was just a grammar mistake, it can’t be that bad,” you may be thinking. I don’t know what the answer is to these questions. Most people may not even notice, because it did fly by in a super short ad. But a mistake is a mistake, and if employers can pitch a resume into the circular file for a typo, I would imagine that customers could cross John Frieda off the list of shampoos to try if this ad bothers them, too.

What do you think? I know I’m overly sensitive to these kinds of errors, so maybe I am overreacting. Do you think this lack of proofreading could be damaging to a large company? Or does it just show the human side of a business?

EDIT: Today (5/27) I saw the ad again on TV with the error fixed. So it was about two weeks between when the incorrect and fixed ads were aired. Decent turnaround for a nationally-aired commercial for a big company, I suppose, but it’s still a mistake that should have never happened in the first place.

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2 comments

  1. I just saw this ad on HGTV and backed up the DVR to watch it again. Surely, I must have been mistaken, and it was just some flashing ad decoration and not a stupid grammatical mistake. But no, they really did use “it’s” instead of the proper its. So sad. Like you, I absolutely hold companies to a higher standard, and it does leave a bad impression on me as a consumer.

    1. I’m glad I’m not the only one who noticed it! I had to double check it after I saw it on TV too, because I thought surely it couldn’t be a mistake. I’m also kind of surprised it’s still on the air, because I would have thought someone should have noticed it by now and pulled the ad. I think that shows even more laziness if nobody at the company has even realized it yet.

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