3min to read
In this installment of MarketSmiths’ Badvertising we discuss why art directors need to observe the proper use of kerning type. As usual, DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME!
Esurance’s Bad Typographic Embarassment.
In the fall of 2014, Esurance learned the hard way (no pun intended) that one should look at their ads from all angles when a seemingly innocuous billboard that read:
Looked like this when viewed from another angle:
When someone tweeted an image of the sign that had been Photoshopped in order to make it more clearly say “dick” the Internet went wild:
“God, I hope it isn’t ‘shopped,” wrote one guy “ ‘Cover your home in a dick’ might be the greatest corporate slogan since Wendy’s dropped ‘Where’s the beef?’ ”
Hey @esurance, I think you meant “click” and not “dick”. Stern words about kerning for your ad agency.
— Sharlene King (@typodactyl)
Esurance was eventually forced to respond to the buzz: “Earlier this summer esurance placed a series of outdoor billboards in Chicago,” wrote Danny Miller, senior manager of communications for the company. “Soon after, however, we discovered that from a distance, the final word could be read as something else. As a result, all of the ads in question were taken down by July 24.” Not true. The “offending” billboards were still being spotted at various locations around Chicagoland months later.
Kerning issues and font choices aside, the marketing take-away here is that no matter how embarassing the episode was for Esurance, odds are no one would have even noticed the bland billboards otherwise, and they got a massive amount of free publicity out of it.
Sometimes being a d**k pays off.