Monday, January 24, 2011

How Not to Package Your Product

What's wrong with this picture?

Okay, I admit it. This article is not my best example of hard hitting in-depth economic analysis. Its more an excuse for me to post a funny picture I took at a Walgreens today, (kind of like my last article about that bizarre viral billboard campaign). However, I will say that this picture, taken from the package of a bargain plug-in video game console, is a great example of how not to package a product. Just one more quality-control step could have prevented this confusing and humorous design choice. Sometimes all it takes is a second pair of eyes to notice something like this.

Or perhaps this wasn't a mistake. In the rush to bring this bargain product to market, the packaging team might not have had time to take (or photoshop) a picture of a kid playing the game plugged into a backseat television screen, and whoever gave the go-ahead on the package design just said "eh, that's good enough." Whatever the case, the result is a barrel of laughs!

But I'll take this a step further. I think this kind of mistake is emblematic of the "death of the proofreader" a phenomenon brought about by the advent of spelling and grammar checking software. I am not an anti-spellcheck luddite, but it's just a matter of fact that before spellcheck and grammarcheck, a second pair of eyes was a necessary part of copy writing for packaging and other media. But that second pair of eyes can be expensive, and for many tasks, digital checking can be superior. However, problems arise because computers cannot easily deal with the meanings behind words. For example, to a spelling and grammar checker the sentences "They had a fight" and a corresponding typo "They had a fig" are equally valid. It would take a proofreader to recognize that error, just as it would take a proofreader to recognize that the kid in the second picture is playing his game on a tv stand, which is rather hard to do in a car.

(I sure hope there are no typoes in this article.)

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