This story goes back in the days when I was working in an agency.

One day I was tasked to blast out an EDM to database of 130,000 email addresses. Since it was a major blast, I had to do it at midnight while the internet traffic was low (during the days when broadband was still 1mbps).

The marcom director of our client has given the green light to blast out the EDM. While I was doing one final round of checks, I decided to prefix the word: <Promo> to the subject line, thinking that was the right thing to do. Finally I hit the “Send” button.

Half-an-hour later, the marcom director called my phone, asking if I added the word “Promo” to the subject line. I said “yes”.

“WHAT THE FUCK WERE YOU THINKING?!” The exact word from the other end of the phone line.

“Don’t you know we don’t and will never use the word ‘Promo’?! Because we will never run any promo!”

Honestly, I had no idea about that. But immediately I aborted the blast while it was still going on, though it had made it to about 3,000+ recipients already. I spent next 10 hours going through the sent log to sift out who were those 3,000+, and sent them the clarification email.

Boss asked to see me the next day to understand the incident.

I called up the marcom director again to apologise to him officially. I told him I was prepared to be fired, but surprised why I wasn’t. To which his reply was, after accepting my apology, “I’m glad your boss didn’t fire you. I wouldn’t too! If he had, the next guy who join the company may make the same mistake. Why risk that, instead of keeping you, who are already better than the next guy!”

Those kind words have become one of my guiding principals since.

I forgot to tell, the client was Apple.