Turning A Mistake Into a Marketing Success

Over 50 years ago, a person who worked for a sign company had the job of installing a sign at a 'Kwik Wash' laundromat in Texas. The word LAUNDRY was boldly presented on the sign and somehow that installer mistakenly hung the sign upside down.

Over the next several months, a lot of folks made fun of the blunder. The owner of the Kwik Wash had intended to correct the mistake but then had the realization that the upside-down sign was getting his washateria noticed.

That gaffe soon became the calling card of a laundry empire. Over 150 Kwik Wash locations would open up over the 1970s, each one with the signature upside-down LAUNDRY hanging from the business.

Marketing - Buc-ee's Style

The brass at Buc-ee's could teach a college-level course on marketing strategies. For many travelers across Texas and the South, it is considered forbidden to pass a Buc-ee's location without stopping.

The beaver has built market domination not on an upside-down sign, but on bathrooms that are scrubbed more often than a surgeon's hands. A clean restroom is a remarkable selling point, and, while I'm here let me get some...

  • gas
  • beaver nuggets
  • jerky
  • fudge
  • a hoodie
  • a toy for my dog
  • and Christmas presents for most of my family
  • (repeat at the next location)

Buc-ee's Billboards

I also love the Buc-ee's billboards placed along the highways, each one telling you how many more miles before your next beaver encounter. Most of those billboards also feature clever captions, such as:

  • "Only ____ miles til Buc-ee's...you can hold it."
  • "Our aim is to have clean restrooms, your aim will help."
  • "Eat here, get gas."
  • "You had me at Howdy!"

Let's focus on that last caption and the sign that goes with it...


Notice the issue?

My wife took this picture on Interstate 35, obviously 73 miles from the next Buc-ee's location in Temple, Texas.

On Purpose or Not?

So, was the incorrect spelling of Howdy done on purpose? Or, is there some guy working for a sign company that's the grandson of a guy who used to hang signs for a laundry company?

Regardless, it definitely is an attention-getter, and whether intended or not, I have no doubt that the marketing geniuses at Buc-ee's will use it to their favor.

Personal Note from my Wife

I do have a personal note to the higher-ups at Buc-ee's.

In the event that HODWY was an oversight, my wife (an English teacher) would like to know if you are hiring a spell-checker. She has seen the signs in your store indicating the pay rates for employees, and after doing some comparisons to her current salary, she would like to apply for a possible spell-checker position.

...uh, so would I

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One of Texas' biggest Buc-ee's just turned 8 in Temple.

Temple, Texas is home to one of the biggest Buc-ee's, and just turned 8 years old.





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