MADISON (WKOW) -- A print advertisement by Wisconsin-based hardware super store Menards took a swipe at the reliability of the U.S. Post Office, generating online complaints from postal workers and raising questions over how the ad content was approved for publication.
"Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas," reads the bottom of the December 4 advertisement for a variety of Menards products.
The more than dozen pages of Menards advertisements in the Sunday newspaper insert and in Menards stores included sentimental and inspirational thoughts on Christmas at the bottom of every ad page, with the reference to the post office's performance starkly different than every other entry.
In a statement, Menards spokesperson Jeff Abbott placed blame for the ad on a staff member's decision.
"Recently, a quote from Johnny Carson was placed in the flyer and the one scheduled for publication was removed by a young fellow who was working for us who apparently thought it was hilarious," said Abbott. "We sincerely apologize for the quote."
Madison College marketing professor Steve Noll said the economy's slump has affected the creative divisions of businesses perhaps more than other units.
"What originally may have been a (advertising) staff of five people that could look at (content), now we're looking at two people. And these two people have a whole host of things they need to proof and get to before they go on to their next project."
Noll told 27 News during the critical holiday season in the retail sector, there's also more pressure on advertising campaigns to differentiate themselves and cut through advertising clutter.
Abbott did not explain how a sole employee's advertising copy change escaped review before publication.
In social media, postal employees complained about the ad's reinforcement of a stereotype. A spokesperson for the U.S. Postal Service said the apology from Menards was accepted.
Despite Menards' apologetic stance, the ad flyer with the postal reference remained in the chain's Madison stores Tuesday. Menards operates 262 stores in 13 states.