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Incident Report: HP Ad Campaign

Category:communicationDate of Incident:2003.10.03
Company:Hewlett PackardItem or Service:print advertisement


Hewlett Packard, one of the earliest "high tech" companies, founded in a garage in the Silicon Valley, is known now as the largest maker of printers.


Their marketing focuses on images, images to print, to scan, to photograph, to share, because images need to be printed, after all. Their fall 2003 marketing campaign opened with a huge media blitz, including a multi-page, full-color glossy brochure that was a pull-out insert in USA Today. Pages 4 and 5 of that insert are shown here; look closely and you'll see that some text reads left to right, but some text reads right to left. Oops.

print ad

Scenario problems:

This printed piece had to go through several hands before it reached consumers; the agency who created it, the person(s) who approved it, folks at the printing company that printed it, etc. Each of them had, I'm sure, an area that they reviewed in the image: yes, the bleeds look good... yes, the skin tones look good... yes, the color balance looks good... yes, the plus-sign has the right emphasis... but no one apparently assumed the onus of checking the entire piece.

In a Nutshell:

HP's focus is, after all, about communication. What does this advertisement communicate to you?

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