Imperfections are part of the human condition. However, when we come across flawed packaging, it’s surprising.
In extreme situations, we may wonder how the fail became, to quote a former editor of mine, egregious.
I knew when I first heard it that it referred to something that wasn’t good, but to be honest, I looked it up the first time he used it: e·gre·gious 1. outstandingly bad; shocking.
For editors, typos are the bane of our craft. Which leads me to recount a recent internet purchase from an Amazon vendor that yielded a pair of packaging fails that qualify as egregious not once, but twice. Before I take it to task, I want to point out the product itself is good. The offending package was a printed microflute box for an ab roller from N1 Fit that sported two major typos of common words. What confirms these as an egregious #PackagingFail is that they appear in large print as part of the back-of-box callouts of the ab roller’s major attributes.
You can see in the photos exactly what they got wrong; these are words 5th graders can spell.
It’s mystifying how these obvious misspellings could be missed except for a printed clue on the package: Designed and Developed in the U.S.A. Made in China.
Ironically, there’s an abundance of secondary copy before, between, and after the offending words that appear typo-free, though there is a grammatical error in the same section as the typos (can you spot it?).
I’m also generally uncomfortable pointing out the flaws of others without pointing out my own; I’ve certainly made dozens of typos that have appeared in stories over the years. That's one reason I’ve embraced the print-to-digital conversion that made corrections after publishing instantaneous and easy. Printed typos may have years of shelf life.
The most egregious misspelling I recall making was in the 1990s during my first stint with Packaging Digest. It was of course in a headline, and I can still see it clearly in my mind’s eye.
The feature was about three Russian packaging innovations for which I used the word Troika in the headline, which refers to a group or team of three. I thought it appropriate and clever, but I failed to confirm the word's spelling. As did my editors. It ended up printed in permanent ink on a tabloid-sized page as Trioka. I only realized the fail after I received the print issue and checked the story and only then thought to confirm the spelling. I may have gasped aloud from my cube.
Over time that turned into amusement, and eventually I could laugh at my mistake. Isn’t it said that whoever laughs at his own mistakes never laughs alone? If not, then I just made that up.
We learn from our mistakes and so did I: I have not mentioned that incident or used that word in an article until now. Since that gaffe I have frequently rechecked spellings — first and foremost headlines — and welcome rather than rail against spellcheck software.
And in one amazing coincidence of timing, this morning I received an email from Troika Systems.
We welcome hearing from you about any packaging fails or misfires you come across, drop us a note.
Lastly, few mistakes are permanently engraved in stone or metal, though there are exceptions to every rule like this inspiring quote engraved on an aluminum bar purchased from a second-hand store that I keep near my desk: