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Back To School: Who Needs Punctuation

by Mike Karfakis on September 2, 2011

Image courtesy of Gawker.com

Old Navy’s heavily promoted fresh line of college-themed apparel -- Superfan Nation -- made its debut this month. Go! Team! Win! But wait. Many shirts were missing a little something. Customers took to tweeting after noticing an apostrophe absent from the “Lets Go” rally shirts for USC, UGA, and several other schools.

Tweeters attacked the company with plenty of disdainful tweets:  “Grammar fail for @oldnavy,” and, “Pains my English major heart. #oldnavy”

The company is replacing the shirts with a grammatically correct version “as soon as possible.” An Old Navy representative told the Los Angeles Times they would be replacing the shirts in their stores and on their website.

The situation shows how quick retailers need to be in today’s digital world. A mistake like this, otherwise minor on, say, a high-school literature report, may seem minor, but Twitter chatter on the subject sent it soaring to the top of the news radar. And rightly so, if you ask us. This is a multi-million dollar corporation, not high school.

Not to mention the fact that this went unnoticed by higher-ups at Old Navy. The thought has been in our head for a while now: that the Internet is making us dumber. Our culture is riddled with misspellings, and it pains our souls to think of a time in which people don’t care about the English language.

Nonetheless, retailers and businesses need to be prepared to address such situations in a way that shows their digital smarts and awareness of people talking about the incident, good or bad. So far, Old Navy hasn’t addressed the situation on its Twitter or Facebook page. For various reasons, the silent treatment is obviously not the best coping strategy here.

Ignoring small mistakes and waiting for the buzz to wear off is Old Navy’s strategy now, but today’s customer seems to think highly of companies who can communicate directly, even if it’s just about punctuation. Have you noticed any errors in big brand stuff? Let us know – keep restoring our faith in human intelligence.

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