Dorothy Perkins made the front pages last week with one of its coupons.

Unfortunately it wasn’t part of its wider marketing strategy, rather national criticism of how the coupon was advertised to customers.

The problem was with the voucher’s grammar. Nothing too extreme you may think, but the amount of misplaced apostrophes in the copy brought the campaign to the public’s attention.

There’s no need for them to be there and is a common grammatical mistake known as grocer’s apostrophe. There’s worse things that are happening in the world right now, after all!

But if there’s anything that really riles the public it’s when a big company makes rudimental mistakes when they’re trying to sell something.


I brushed on this last week in my post about the benefits of email marketing.

Take a few extra minutes to proofread everything in your campaign before sending it out. There’s little worse than going through an entire creative process and distributing it to thousands only to notice an elementary mistake that could have been solved with very little effort.

Now that their coupon has attracted attention you can only imagine that’s what’s happening in Dorothy Perkins’ head office right about now. A case of cutting corners on the editorial side?

More than likely. One mistake is forgivable but so many in the space of two sentences is careless.

That isn’t just my opinion. It’s the opinion of thousands on message boards across the world as the coupon has gone viral.

Dorothy Perkins isn’t the only guilty party. A few other campaigns have seen the dreaded grocer’s apostrophe crawl into the copy now and then.

Is the Dorothy Perkins blunder the worst case of proofreading you’ve ever seen or have you come across worse? Let me know in the comments section below!

Galling grammar

So what’s the fuss over a stray apostrophe? For a lot of consumers it comes down to trust.

Commentators on the issue are split into two camps – those that aren’t too bothered and those that take it as a personal affront.

The amount of people angered by it though are large in number, part of the reason why the coupon has gone viral. Comments have ranged from how to use apostrophes, that the practice is learned in primary school, and accusations of lazy marketing.

It’s a very sore point with many, and ties in with feelings of being let down. When marketing you only have a few seconds to make an impression with people. Blow it and they won’t care.

‘You’re trying to sell me something. Impress me.’ If an ad doesn’t make an impact on your audience then that’s a potential lead gone.

Offend them though and they’ll let others know. It’s word of mouth at its most dangerous.

Black Milk Clothing’s social suicide


Black Milk Clothing’s social suicide


Black Milk Clothing is a specialist retailer. Over the months and years it has built up a following from the self-proclaimed geek market.

So when the company posted a picture apparently offending said market at the start of the month through its social channels then a few were quick to protest.

A simple case of making a mistake and apologising for it, you may think. Instead the person in charge of the social media account went on the defensive, attacking anyone that dared to challenge the posting of the original picture and refusing to apologise.

Black Milk Clothing turned on the very customers that had helped build the company with an aloof attitude that quickly went viral and gained negative global attention.

Can Black Milk turn it around? What do they have to do to win their customers back and repair their reputation? Let me know below!

An issue of trust

There is a big difference between these two cases.

The Dorothy Perkins one is down to poor editorial while the Black Milk issue’s a display of the worst kind of customer service. Both issues though boil down to trust.

The Black Milk Clothing example’s obvious enough (I’d hope people reading have more common sense than to bully the people that built the company up) but the Dorothy Perkins voucher is just as prevalent. It’s a different kind of trust that’s been shaken.

The internet’s shown how many people can pick up on even the slightest mistakes, and brands a lot smaller than Dorothy Perkins have also gone viral for similar issues.


Black Milk Clothing turned on the very customers that had helped build the company


It’s a trust that says ‘if a company’s raking in millions every year then why haven’t they got the budget to do a simple spellcheck?’

‘If your company is raking in millions every year then how come I can use apostrophes properly and you can’t?’

‘Why should I bother giving you any more of my money if you’re not going to treat me with the intellectual respect I deserve?’

Dorothy Perkins won’t have made this mistake on purpose but they are at fault for being sloppy with their marketing. They’re paying the price for it with negative media attention.

Control your chaos for marketing perfection

There is a lot of chaos in marketing. The best agencies have a modicum of chaos control which is why they often have the most successful campaigns.

Some form of automation could have helped Dorothy Perkins avoid its mistake by assigning a final check to somebody that could have spent a few minutes (or even seconds) proofing the campaign.

Or maybe they did and the person in charge isn’t the most adept editor they could have hired…

Either way a tighter structure could have prevented Dorothy Perkins’ coupon catastrophe. Black Milk Clothing on the other hand – no amount of structure could have foreseen the company’s social media marketer pressing the self-destruct button.

Everything in life is at the mercy of human error. But by setting enough time aside to make some final checks for your campaigns – no matter how boring it may seem – you’ll be getting positive attention instead of negative write-ups in the media.

Contact Webpresence now to see how we can improve your online marketing campaign and generate more interest for your brand.