Advertiser printed bad ad copy without approval

I haven’t been on here in a while, but this was the best place I could think of for advice on this matter.

Basically, a friend purchased a spot for her hair salon in a local print advertisement similar to the brochures you see in the front of hotels. It lists a lot of area businesses with pictures, short descriptions, etc…

Well, the advertiser knew one of her stylists and singled her out as the one to go to in the description of the ad. It practically sounds like they are saying she is the only one worth going to. The rest of the ad copy was not ideal as well. This description was never sent for my friend to confirm before it was printed and now it’s all over the city for the next year.

This causes numerous problems for the salon owner. The other stylists are most likely upset, and the stylist in question already has a full clientele so it’s not even very helpful to her. And if she happens to quit for whatever reason then we have a situation where people who have seen the ad may not come in when they find out she doesn’t work there anymore.

My friend has paid a deposit, but not the full amount for the ad yet. She has signed a contract to get the ad.

Any suggestions on good ways to handle this situation? So far she is sending a complaint to the advertiser and having a meeting with everyone that works there just to let them know it wasn’t done on purpose as favoritism from the owner.

That’s totally unprofessional. Unless it was a really dodgy contract, I’d say your friend has solid grounds for legal action against the advertiser.

Those are good first steps. The other stylists will most likely understand that it wasn’t done on purpose.

But as for how to deal with the situation, it really depends on what was signed and what was discussed between the advertiser and the business. Did the contract describe some kind of approval/proof that had to be approved prior to going to print? Was the advertiser acting on some other authority? What was said?

If they simply printed whatever they felt was right without approval, certainly they should do something to make up for this problem. But, I’ve never met a publisher who didn’t an approval from someone. Are there any more details to this story?

Thanks for the replies. There aren’t any other relevant details I can think of, but I wasn’t there for any of the discussions or contracts so there is a chance I’m missing details. I’ll try to check out the actual contract to see if there’s anything in there that would be relevant.

We don’t particularly want to go the route of legal action, but I guess we can’t rule it out. I guess we probably have a case to demand that they take down everything and reprint the whole batch, but probably if they just refund the cost of the ad it will clear things up. The problems this has caused can be dealt with, but having to pay money for those problems just seems wrong. Does this sound like a reasonable request?

I’ll post back as this progresses.

I think some of the details that would be relevant is if they gave the company any instruction to write some of the copy or if it was all provided 100% from the start? If you provided the copy and they changed it without asking, that would surely be something to pursue.

However, if you gave them the ability to write / modify the copy, then you’re getting into more grey area that would really benefit from a look at the contract. Of course no matter what, there should be an approval process before anything goes to print, whoever has control over writing the content. Even last minute submissions to a magazine / newspaper can do a digital copy to send and get approved. This should have happened, and if it didn’t, you surely would not be liable for what was written without your approval.

A client of mine submitted a full completed ad (PDF file) to a magazine and we received the approval form back with exactly how we submitted it. However, after they got the magazine after printing, the printer had modified the address information on the ad we submitted, causing confusion to some customers. We contacted our rep and obviously had the approval form of what was supposed to print. They refunded my client and also gave them a half page ad for free in the next issue for the error.

You can’t change what was done obviously, you can’t pull back every issue and re-print, but they should be able to compensate you for something you didn’t approve of. Talk to them, if they are reputable, I’m pretty sure they will do the right thing and try to make it up to you in some way.

It’s not clear that legal action or even a refund is in order. There are two sides to each story, and certainly there is some reason that the publisher thought it would be OK to devise the ad content and print it without approval - unless they are just clumsy in business.

So, without those details, it’s hard to really have an opinion.

I guess I could ask them to come post here, but that seems a little awkward. :rolleyes:

Could you even take a guess why a publisher would send out unapproved ad content to print? There must be some reason he would break the standard of having a proof approved by the client.

If you don’t want to speculate then why would you expect me to? They screwed up is why they broke that standard! All of my guesses all boil down to “they figured it wouldn’t be a big deal” so let’s run with that theory.

Solid advice. I really do need to look at the contract to see if they specified who writes the content and if it should be approved.

I think we’re talking to them today so we’ll se what they say.

“They screwed up is why they broke that standard! All of my guesses all boil down to “they figured it wouldn’t be a big deal” so let’s run with that theory.”

You can run with that, but it isn’t necessarily accurate.

At some point every professional has to make some decisions for their client, even if they are usually quite simple. Local press is no different.

And at least where I am (TX, USA) it is pretty standard for low-end press to run stuff w/o approval beyond the basic message. I took over a client who was having ugly print ads run in the local paper, laid out by that paper. My ads look a lot better and I handle getting them printed and up to date. And the copy is exactly what my clients want (even though I don’t usually send them a proof).

But they are paying me to layout ads, and they are paying the paper to print and distribute ads. These are not the same jobs or services.

Most of the local paper’s clients are tiny businesses and the printer is also setting the ad. In those situations, it is not at all unusually to get the basic info and run an ad with no proof to the client. That is just part of doing business in low-end print publications who are being paid for printing and only offer ad production as a convenience to folks who buy ads.

Maybe it is different where you are, but here you would be paying for printing. Next time have your friend layout her own ad or hire a pro. IMO, you should also tell her to pay her printing bill :slight_smile: .

Really, in my view, if you want to place an ad, you should write the copy (or at least get it written) before approaching an advertiser. It sounds like the agreement was for the advertiser to come up with the copy, which seems pretty silly to me—and is really the biggest lesson here. But I still think, in such a circumstance, it’s odd to print that copy without any verification that it’s OK.

My friend talked with them. Their explanation was that the ad copy was “editorial” and not part of the advertisement and they can put anything they want. This is BS because it says very clearly as part of their sales package that the listing includes a 126 character description as part of the price.

Unfortunately it looks like they took the only copy of the signed contract so it looks like we need to get our hands on that if we want to press this further.

But anyways what they said is that they’re going to change it and reprint the whole thing because they’ve been getting complaints from their other advertisers as well. That should come out in a month or two and will hopefully replace everything on the street which pretty much clears everything up if they do as promised.


O well, sounds like a reasonable solution to the problem is on the way.

Haha, :eek: is right!

I just hope the reasonable solution actually happens. If they get this fixed I think the end result will still be a positive one with plenty of opportunities for both parties to learn from their mistakes and the desired result from the ad achieved. It’s a nicely branded city guide so we’re happy to be in it once this is cleared up. Hopefully next years edition will go a little smoother.

And don’t forget to ask for indemnity, that ad company should pay for all the trouble that they have caused.


Realistically I don’t think that’s an option in this specific case, and we don’t actually need monetary reparations to be happy with the end result. Either a reprint or a refund is all we’re gunning for. I would have a hard time assigning a value to the problems - much of it boils down to hurt feelings and the ad simply being useless for the reasons we bought it.

However I will probably push for indemnity if they try to be stubborn about things - just to put the middle ground of compromise is where it needs to be.