Mayoral candidate for 'coulcil' gets flak for error-filled ad

A full-page newspaper ad for Calgary mayoral candidate Bill Smith is making the rounds on social media — for all the wrong reasons.

Bill Smith's campaign communications director accepts blame for spelling and grammar gaffes in full-page ad

Calgary mayoral candidate Bill Smith is one of 10 people vying to become the city's next mayor in the upcoming 2017 election. (Kate Adach/CBC)

A full-page newspaper ad for Calgary mayoral candidate Bill Smith is making the rounds on social media — for all the wrong reasons.

The ad, placed by Smith's campaign team, ran in Sunday's edition of the Calgary Sun. It was rife with spelling and grammar mistakes, ranging from spelling "council" as "coulcil" and "whether" as "wheather."

Smith, a Calgary lawyer and former president of the Alberta Progressive Conservative party, is one of 10 candidates vying for the mayor's seat in the Oct. 16 municipal election. 

Alan Middleton, a marketing professor at the Schulich School of Business at York University in Toronto, says the old advertising adage "any publicity is good publicity" is not accurate.

"Bad publicity damages the brand you're trying to sell," Middleton said Tuesday, adding the mistakes can impact Smith's credibility, especially among undecided voters.

"So what this would signal to me is, if this guy can't even supervise accurate communication in an ad, how good is he going to be running budgets and looking after legislation as mayor?"

Responsibility for the mistakes fall to the Smith campaign, said Middleton.

"This is on him, this is not the paper — he paid for the ad and he chose the copy so it's on him and his people," he said.

'We goofed bad'

Rick Donkers, Smith's campaign communications director, accepted blame for the mistakes. He said it was his job to sign off on the ad but he was under the weather in "a NeoCitran haze" when it was time to clarify the copy.

"We goofed bad," Donkers said. 

"There is no excuse for it. The checks and balances are in place and it should not reflect on the candidate. It should reflect on the people that are trying to support him."

Donkers said the campaign team will learn from the mistake and make sure the proper checks are in place to make sure it doesn't happen again.

Small errors won't make or break campaign

The errors won't necessarily make or break the campaign this early on, said Middleton.

"It may not be one little thing that really hurts you," Middleton said, adding this ad could open the candidate up to further scrutiny from voters. 

"It's the assembly of things that could weaken him."

Bill Smith's campaign ran this full-page ad in Sunday's edition of the Calgary Sun. Campaign communications director Rick Donkers said the errors in the copy should not reflect on the candidate, but on the campaign team. (Calgary Sun)


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