Why Van Halen refused brown M&Ms and you should too

As the music world mourns the death of rock god Eddie Van Halen this week, stories of his eponymous band’s famous ‘no brown M&Ms’ standard contractual clause have resurfaced. That’s right, you read correctly. Brown ones were strictly verboten. But was this stipulation simply a furphy? And what on earth has it got to do with proofreading?

The clause was real enough. But it wasn’t just one of those typically outrageous demands so often associated with headline acts. (Iggy Pop regularly requested a Bob Hope impersonator, Prince wanted everything in his dressing room wrapped in plastic and don’t even think about uttering the words ‘leather furniture’ and ‘Paul McCartney’ in the same sentence.)

It seems that Van Halen’s candy qualifier was all about being confident that each contract’s technical specifications had been thoroughly read and implemented. As one-time ‘hair apparent’ and famously introverted lead singer David Lee Roth said, ‘If I came backstage, having been one of the architects of our lighting and staging design, and I saw brown M&Ms on the catering table, then I guarantee the promoter had not read the contract rider, and we would have to do a serious line check.”

He had a point. Van Halen were renowned for staging huge concert productions all over the globe. Even the tiniest mistake could have massive consequences such as a mid-performance equipment failure, resulting in embarrassment for the group and disappointment for their fans. It was all about being 100 per cent spot on. Exactly as it should be.

Now, your business may be not be churning out rock classics like they’re going out of style, but you still need to ensure that the production of your important business documents and marketing materials leaves no stone unturned when it comes to accuracy. You owe it to your fans to get it right first time. Besides, they’ll notice if you don’t – and where’s the value in that?

Accuracy isn’t difficult to achieve; it’s as simple as hiring a professional proofreader. It’s our job to flag up every ‘brown M&M’ we find and a whole lot more, too. Typos, grammar mistakes, style inconsistencies, duplicated information, formatting and non-adherence to heading hierarchies are just some of the typical bloopers that we prevent from slipping through the net, saving our clients’ time, embarrassment and reprint costs.

Not only that, when we cast our expert eye over your written words, our job is to ensure they read well by ensuring we create one consistent ‘voice’, despite the often multiple authors who’ll each have given their input. One voice = consistent branding.

Still not convinced that proofreading matters? Well, not to put too fine a point on it, you’re wrong. Proofreading is just another way of saying ‘professional’. And it can make all the difference between people taking your business seriously and dismissing it. Which would you rather they do?

For help with copywriting, proofreading or editing any of your business documents, contact Proof Communications on 02 8036 5532 or 0411 123 216 or head to the contact page.

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