How one spelling mistake can cost you millions (aka the Topshop blunder)


If you haven’t heard about the Topshop “Shakespere” blunder by now, you nearly missed a valuable lesson on the importance of spelling and grammar.

"Shakespere" or "Shakespeare"? Topshop gets it horribly wrong...

Here’s what happened: Topshop, the clothing giant, commissioned a design company to produce a William Shakespeare-inspired women’s t-shirt. After what we can only imagine was a lengthy creative process, they came up with the ingenious idea of recreating the famous lines, “Romeo Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo?” on a t-shirt in fancy calligraphy. So far so good…

…and then the blunder

The famous quote was signed by “Shakespere”, not “Shakespeare” and the £20 t-shirts proceeded to go on sale online and across UK stores bearing the grave misspelling – cue lots of online mockery from shoppers, a swift recalling of t-shirts and plenty of red faces at Topshop HQ.

Topshop’s failure to proofread cost them time, probably millions in reprint and lost revenue, and resulted in a very public brand humiliation.

4 out of 10 applicants rejected

Spelling and grammar mistakes are generally not a good look for anyone but for jobseekers, committing these blunders on your CV, cover letter or job application form could be the very thing that costs you the interview – approximately 4 out of 10 job applications are rejected due to bad spelling and grammar.

It’s very important that you proofread your application thoroughly before hitting that send button – if in doubt, get a friend (with proven grammar skills) to look over it, or better still, hire a professional to put together your CV, cover letter or application form for you (there’s no better place to look than right here 🙂 ).

15 common grammar mistakes

In the meantime, here’s a great infographic on 15 common grammar mistakes you want to avoid at all costs – whether in your job application or elsewhere (courtesy of the brilliant online writing site, Copyblogger):


15 Grammar Goofs That Make You Look Silly
Like this infographic? Get more copywriting tips from Copyblogger.

For more useful keys on creating a CV that gets interviews, pick up a copy of 7 Keys to a Winning CV: How to create a CV that gets results on Amazon and all good bookshops.

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  1. Clare Josa /

    Great article, Mildred. Thanks for sharing!

    I remember from my corporate days how many times I would rule out interviewing candidates because of sloppy mistakes in their CV or cover letter. I needed people with a good attention to detail and strong literacy skills in my Market Research team and I figured that, if they could make mistakes in something as important as their CV, then they were likely to do the same once in the job.

    My favourite CV blunder was a guy who applied for a Market Research job and forgot to edit his CV. The opening statement was clearly from a previous application and told me how much he had always wanted to work in Sales….
    We all make mistakes… But…!

    • Thanks Clare, you’re totally right about the attention to detail and literacy – it’s funny how something as ‘little’ as a spelling mistake or typo can prove to be so big and significant when it comes to whether or not a candidate’s shortlisted for a job!

      I’ve also had to reject more than my fair share of random generic CVs and cover letters from when I used to recruit people as part of my role many years ago. The unfortunate thing is in my role as a CV consultant now, I see that not much has changed – people are still making the same careless mistakes. And so the work continues…who knows for how long?

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