Ben Carson’s America – a cautionary tale

In Dealing With Monsters, Marketing 101, Social Media by Jeff PeytonLeave a Comment

Jeff: Chad and I were just discussing final layout for the new Tin Cans Christmas card when yet another round of “Ben Carson’s America” tweets flooded my stream. Thanks to my new Galaxy Gear S2, I’m never far from breaking news or brash stupidity!

I Googled the erroneous map and randomly selected one of an entire page of examples. In this case, The Washington Post had labeled it “Ben Carson’s America.” The article is actually a good read, suggesting exactly what Chad believes to be the case: some poor graphic artist having a particularly bad day. It goes on to point out other politically inopportune graphical blunders, including the time CNN showed Hong Kong as part of Brazil.

For their part, the Carson campaign has more or less (wisely) ignored the matter altogether. At least outwardly. I hope the kid who walked away from his unfinished map to grab a sandwich, only to come back and find out that some other staffer sent it to press without even looking at it, didn’t lose his job.

I mean, come on. It’s not an example of Dr. Carson’s lack of Adobe Creative Suite credentials. It’s not a malicious attempt to send New England liberals to Canada. It’s the Illustrator equivalent of a typo. A big, glaring, stupid typo.

Screen Shot 2015-11-19 at 2.09.41 PM

Chad believes (and I concur) that this is one of those Adobe Illustrator maps where the states are basically individual pieces grouped together, allowing the artist to color them, or create custom callouts for, um, illustrative purposes. In this case, it appears the artist in question was assembling the map, stacking pieces while figuring out what, exactly, the boss wanted.

Heck, the artist might not even be responsible for the mess! Anyone who’s worked in production knows there are times when jobs move from computer to computer, up and down the food chain. At any point, Artist A could have taken a bio-break, and Body B could have gotten the call from Supervisor C that Bossman D wanted the map 10 minutes ago. At that point either Body B or Supervisor C grabbed the latest version of a work-in-progress, saved it as a PDF, and sent it over to the social media kids to work their magic and make it go viral. (As if.)

Well, this time it did. Good job, social media desk!

Look, all I’m saying is that dumb typos happen. All the blippin’ time. This is not really a big deal. No puppies were harmed in the making of this map.

I am also saying that dumb typos happen. All the blippin’ time. Your production process – especially during hectic, crazy, post-deadline nightmarish times – needs to stand up to the pressure. All work must be checked. Then checked again. And finally, after the PDF is made, checked one more time.

At a minimum.

The one time you let down your guard, the one time you trust that the new kid did his job exactly right, the one time you assume that dumb typos are a myth … well, get ready to give your social media desk a raise, cause you’re goin’ viral.

Just like Ben Carson’s America.


Jeff Peyton
Don’t be fooled by Jeff’s accomplishments in communications, crisis and business management. He also wing-walked on an airplane at 700 feet, co-piloted the Goodyear Blimp and swam with sharks – and still managed to obtain paperwork officially declaring him “legally sane.” Really.

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