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By September 8, 2015September 26th, 2015Tom Gattos Copy Chronicles

Surely everyone knows you can’t proofread your own copy, right? However, there are some agencies who haven’t quite grasped the concept, or rather, aren’t prepared to pay for a proofreader.

Like the one I worked for when I was the copywriter on the Turkish Airlines account. Because TA was government owned, the ads had to promote Turkey as well as the airline. So we based the campaign on the cultural and historic halo effect you get by flying with them.

One ad featured the Iznik period of ceramic tiles and pottery. What? Not familiar with it? It only represents the artistic and cultural zenith of the Ottoman Empire in the 15th and 16th centuries! Dah.

Anyway, long story short, the ad pictured an Iznik vase and instead of giving it the date 1586, it appeared as 1856 (dyslexia strikes again). This went to press all over the globe, from the Wall Street Journal to Die Zeit.

Big deal I hear you say? Well, only several hundred people around the world wrote-in to say they were outraged we got the date wrong by around 300 years! Bunch of smart alecks!

Naturally, the agency fingers began pointing at me. No good telling them they should have hired a proofreader. So I said it was actually a deliberate test to see how many people read the copy and on behalf the airline, to understand whether consumers felt strongly enough about the cultural history of Turkey to make the campaign about it worthwhile. And the level of responses proved the success of the campaign. Phew! They bought it.

So if your agency can’t afford a proofreader, make sure you get your partner or a close friend or colleague to proofread your work – or else be prepared to invent a really elaborate story to plaster over the cracks in your copy. And there will be cracks. Just zaying.