One night at CA, the judges’ conversations disintegrated into telling tales about our worst-nightmare faux paus. They’re funny now that time has passed, but at the time, they rocked our worlds.

One of our judges works with the music industry and had us rolling in the aisles with this story. Her client, Madonna, was launching her new album Like a Prayer and had visions of the packaging smelling like a Catholic church infused with the scent of swinging incense. Well our industrious, aim-to-please designer found an ingenious solution. Imbue the paper with patchouli oil. (They dumped in it the glue.) What she didn’t realize is how many people, don’t like the fragrance, in fact DESPISE it so much that they barraged her with hate mail. Many are severely allergic to the essential oil.

Spelling errors took the prize for the most common and expensive mistakes. Here are some that made us laugh hardest.

  • Printing an ad with the name of a Virginia-based hospital spelled: Vagina Hospital.
  • Running an ad proclaiming a free pitcher of beef during a bar’s happy hour.
  • Announcing a new restaurant’s gayla opening – in 100-point type on a full-page ad. (The next day the restaurant owners received calls from patrons wondering if this was some sort of secret code announcing a gay-friendly restaurant and others, not wanting to be a part of that kind of place, cancelling their reservations.)
  • Printing the business-card title for a new healthcare client as director of pubic health. (It wasn’t noticed until the client was handing out her cards at her industry’s largest trade-show convention.)

And we’ve all had clients who want you to push the envelope. That is until you do. Then they aren’t sure, did they really give you that direction? One musician wanted to break out and do an edgy, groundbreaking video. The designer rose to the occasion and delivered a right-on-the-mark, million-dollar video production. The musician freaked out and rejected it. Flat out said NO, we need to reshoot. OMG. The designer (who probably lost her lunch) thought she’d lost her job and maybe even her career. Several days later the musician saw the light, liked the piece, in fact loved it. It went on to catapult the musician’s rise to fame and became a groundbreaking video.