The Power of Clean Copy

by Holland-Mark | February 22, 2010

The greatest compliment a proofreader can get is that no one notices your work. When copy isn’t bogged down with grammatical, punctuation, and spelling errors, the content can stand on its own. Even the smallest typo can undermine the consumer confidence and credibility the brand or client has spent so much time and money in building.

I came upon a great example of a confidence-busting typo the other day. The Topps Company — creator of Topps baseball cards and other novelties, like Ring Pops — is currently running an instant-win promotion in their 2010 baseball card product (“Million Card Giveaway”). If you buy a pack of baseball cards and find an online redemption code card, you can go online, type in the code, and “win” a random baseball card from the company’s past. It’s a great idea, and a neat way for current collectors to connect with the company and also become somewhat emotionally invested in the company’s past issues.

But there’s a problem. Despite the best-laid plans of the promotion’s extensive marketing plan, some copy made it onto the company Web site that’s not right. In fact, it’s so not right that it makes the company seem out of touch not only with the history of baseball, but with their own product.

Here’s the text:

If you have a great story about your baseball cards, we would love to hear it. Did your prized Jackie Robinson ’58 card get tossed out accidentally? Or did you have a favorite card for the spokes of your bike? Tell us about it! Email us at with your best memory. Include a picture when you send it!

Can you spot the culprit? (Hint: It’s a single incorrect character.)

OK, here’s the problem: In December of 1956, Jackie Robinson was traded by the Brooklyn Dodgers to the New York Giants. As a member of the Dodgers throughout his Major League career, Robinson saw the trade as an insult, and promptly retired rather than report to his new team. Consequently, Robinson’s 1956 Topps card was his final card as an active player.

So where did the Topps copywriter get ” ’58”? It may seem like a nitpick, but any baseball card collector with a sense of history (the target audience for this promotion) knows that this is incorrect. Also, Web sites are fluid in that edits can be made (presumably) at any time, so why is this text still on the site?