Typo Spoils Marketing Agency’s Pubic Image and SEO

Spelling is probably in the Top 20 of the 15 best things about pubic schools.

What do they teach in those pubic schools?

Think spelling is unimportant? One little “l” can ruin your whole day. Ask the Indiana agency responsible for this billboard. You’re looking at every proofreader’s (and press checker’s) nightmare: A big, fat published typo. A “pubic” typo, in fact.

The above billboard’s missing “l” is now a capital “L” on the collective foreheads of the Blue Waters Group, the agency responsible for the suddenly infamous “pubic schools” sign.

Honorary Vigilante Grammarian and South Bend resident Lee MacMillan said his wife spotted the embarrassing error of omission while sitting in traffic, as reported in the South Bend Tribune.

The digital billboard was for a website called SouthBendOn.com and was created by The Blue Waters Group to promote South Bend, Indiana, on behalf of the city’s redevelopment commission. The agency took responsibility for the typo, saying that four proofreaders checked but somehow missed it. (Even spell check couldn’t have saved them.)

SEO Fall Out?

Along with the ironic embarrassment of misspelling the headline on a school billboard, the typo could also cause search engine optimization problems. Any SEO work the agency may have done could be overwhelmed by the publicity and subsequent links connecting the agency to the typo story. (So one more won’t hurt, right?) Not exactly the kind of thing you want prospects to find first when doing a Google search on your company.

Proofreaders wanted.

Classic Typo

As AdWeek puts it, using “pubic” instead of “public” is one of the classic typos of all time. It even happened at a local community newspaper where I once worked. The paper’s editor wrote a weekly opinion column. One particularly memorable headline read, “Pubic Forum To Be Held.” Being the writer, he ended up with the “credit” for what was a typesetter’s mistake. The good news is that this happened 25 years ago, before camera-phones and the Internet made everything instantly … er, public and publishable.

Do you have any good typo stories or photos? I’ll even settle for some unintentionally funny ads like Jay Leno features during his headlines segment.



4 responses to “Typo Spoils Marketing Agency’s Pubic Image and SEO

  1. I do my fair share of proofreading others’ text, and I’ve made a few lesser (but embarrassing) gaffes over the past 35 years. For example, failing to see – in a bumpersticker that was supposed to say “Where There’s A Will…Put Me In It” – that it said “Where’s There A Will…” Well, at least no one in the 80’s tried to sell a puzzle misnamed “Pubic’s Cube”!

  2. Nice, Dave! Any error can be embarrassing — some more so than others! I have to admit, it’s really difficult to proof your own material. And to be fair to The Blue Waters Group, we all have a tendency to skim and fill in the gaps when letters are missing (as in the email forward with only the first and last letters of words in place, and it’s still legible somehow). As for the “Cube”, I’m not touching that one!

  3. Hey there ~
    Of all the errors tangled and true
    My favorite one causes “Boo hoo hoo…”
    Between my boss and those that quake
    When I find ‘manger’ not ‘manager’ for goodness sake.
    I never do laugh and I never finger wag,
    I write in bright purple pen
    so no red-pen crying jag.
    My other best typo is ‘posse’ for ‘possess’
    In recruitment ads, we are just a mess.
    But I’ll always have a job – I’m just sayin’
    Grammar glitches and spelloes I’ll be slaying…
    PS: Okay so I will never be EBB; don’t know about you guys but I received 27 messages from coworkers the day that billboard came out….

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