How do you get readers of a major literary magazine to notice your advertisement? Put a big typo right in the headline. That’ll rile them up!
That was the fun, troll-ish strategy employed by a Kentucky advertiser in the new issue of Oxford American. “We speak you’re language,” says the full-page ad, placed on behalf of Kentucky for Kentucky, the organization that unofficially promotes the state of Kentucky (and sells Kentucky merch), and its spinoff brand, Southern Socks. (The new issue of OA is Kentucky focused.)
The “you’re,” as much as it might hurt your eyes, was intentional. Copy at the bottom of the ad explains: “We know. It’s ‘your’ not ‘you’re.’ We just figured that a typo would be the best way for our ad to stand out in a fine publication like Oxford American Magazine. But nice catch anyway, William Faulkner.”
See the full ad here:
AdFreak spoke with Whit Hiler—the co-founder of Kentucky for Kentucky and rogue adman (he’s a creative director at Lexington agency Cornett in his day job) whose antics we’ve been covering for years—about the typo stunt.
First off, we asked, how did the magazine feel about running an ad with a typo in the headline?
“Surprisingly, the folks at the Oxford American loved it,” he says. “I was a little worried they wouldn’t. We’ve got some history with the OA. Ky for Ky was featured in their So Lost series back in 2013, and we’re friends with their poetry editor Rebecca Gayle Howell—she’s actually featured in our ad. She thought it was really funny as well. Knowing us, I think they kind of expected we would try to pull some shit like this in our ad.”
Hiler says the typo idea came at the last minute.
“I’m so glad we did it,” he says. “Everyone on our team was on board with the typo idea and thought it was hilarious, but a few folks were a little worried that we’d catch a bunch of hell for it. They kept wanting to put the disclaimer right below the headline. They thought people would miss the disclaimer at the bottom and be quick to call us out on social media. Personally, I wanted to make the disclaimer as small as we could possibly make it. Bring on the haters. I love that the ad looks so serious but really isn’t. We’ll see what happens. Subscriptions shipped out this week. Hopefully everyone finds it entertaining.”
Hiler says the folks at Oxford American are pretty amused by the ad, too, and that several of them have said it’s the best ad ever to run in the 25-year-old magazine.
Hiler and Griffin Van Meter were the creative directors on the project, Rachael Sinclair was the designer, Savanna Barnett was the photographer, and Coleman Larkin wrote the copy on the disclaimer.