Missouri State University Misspells Name on Over 8,000 Promotional Bags

Image via. Springfield News-Leader.

Employees at Missouri State University forgot to do their homework on an order of promotional bags that were given out to students this year. About 6,000 canvas book bags with the school mascot and misspelling “Univeristy” were given to students from the university bookstore.

According to the Springfield News-Leader, MSU spent $70,844 on an order of 17,800 book bags, which were given free of charge to students who pre-ordered their textbooks from the bookstore. In addition to the 6,000 given to students, another 2,500 were destroyed by the university. The school reports that the other half of the order has the correct spelling and will be given out to students in the fall 2013 semester.

The bags were provided by Cares Industry Inc., a direct importer based in Farmingdale, N.Y. The logo design was created by the bookstore’s marketing manager and a proof was approved by bookstore director Mark Brixey in July 2012, meaning the university has no way to dispute the order. A month later, Brixey resigned after auditors discovered that $500,000 was missing in bookstore funds and $81,000 in cash was found in his desk.

The promotional bags were filled by bookstore employees as pre-orders from students came in, with approximately 6,000 bags filled by the start of the semester. Earle Doman, vice president of student affairs at MSU, said that the mistake was first noticed by a student after a few hundred bags had been given out. Bookstore staff continued to hand out the bags after the error was discovered because the bags had already been filled and were waiting for pickup.

Doman indicated that the bookstore staff made the decision without consulting the university. “We would have come up with an alternative,” he explained. “We would have come up with plastic bags had we learned of it. We have talked about those things in the past. It is just not worth it.”

Kyle A. Richardson is the editorial director of Promo Marketing. He joined the company in 2006 brings more than a decade of publishing, marketing and media experience to the magazine. If you see him, buy him a drink.

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  • CMYKSolutions

    Here is my two cents on this. The entire article does not make sense. Either all the bags were wrong or none of them. Imprints do not change half way through a run.

    Proofing is a key factor in making sure that product desired is what is finally delivered and the larger the job, the more important that the processes are followed properly. The supplier should have insisted on a pre-production sample to verify that all brand requirements are adhered to and that final product will meet the requirements desired. Cutting these steps may speed up the process and save money in the short term, but as evident in this article, it will cost the University a fortune in both money and brand capital moving forward.


    Ben Baker, President
    CMYK Solutions Inc.

  • Ad-America

    Any one who has printed custom merchandise has experienced a similar tale at some point over the years. The difference being, most errors are caught in-house and never see the light of day. We have a few rules on this point at Ad-America.
    Rule #1) Anyone at anytime can question the spelling on any order and stop the press. If a typo makes it on to the press, God help the person that says, "Yeh, I saw it, but figured you guys knew about it." That won’t cut it. The few times something like this has happened, the client approved the artwork and design. What did we do? We still re-printed the order.
    Rule #2) Put a second set of eyes on it. It costs nothing to ask another employee or two to look over a design and proof it for spelling errors. Especially a design you’ve been working on over a few days. After a while, even the best artist can miss a typo. Don’t rely on your customer. They rarely proof things the way they should. They see the overall design and go "Wow! I love it! Yes, get it started!" Read each word by syllables. Point to the word with your finger and read it out loud. Let’s face it. Most of the projects we work on can be read in less than 10 – 15 seconds. We’re not proofing books here.
    Rule #3) We never joke about imprints. Every now and then a customer looks at a print and jokes, "Oh, it’s fine except this is misspelled." They think they’re being funny. We don’t laugh. We let them know we take what we produce very seriously. Likewise, we never "joke" like that to a customer. They don’t need the anxiety either.
    Kelly Fleming
    Ad-America / Grand Rapids, MI

  • Kyle Richardson

    CMYKSolutions: There are two possible reasons for the discrepancy. The first is that their initial order of 17,800 bags included two separate decorations (a spring 2013 and a fall 2013 variation) with each getting half, and only one had the misspelling. The second option is that MSU is lying about other half of the order to save face and simply destroyed them, and has purchased new bags for next semester.

    Ad-America: As someone who spends all day proofreading, I salute you.

  • Bill

    Vitronic did the same thing back in the ’70s when one of the principals put thru an order for inexpensive portfolios. He bypassed the system which would have caught the error, to hurry the order along.