Britvic recall – ouch!
Schadenfreude (as illustrated above) – The delighting in others’ misfortunes. When one reads the headline “Britvic admits Robinson’s magicap fiasco could cost £25m” it has the ring of such a mindset about it. The magicap design has led to a product recall because the leak-proof cap has been found to detach if chewed and tugged by a child. One was reportedly found in a child’s mouth. The recall takes millions of Fruit Shoot bottles off the shelves and out of the game for a few weeks. As a design agency who has worked with Britvic in the past, one might feel Schadenfreude at this – but to be honest I feel only sympathy. Mistakes like these can happen to anyone. So I think there are a couple of more appropriate responses.
Firstly, ‘there but for the grace of God go us.’ It’s a big responsibility designing things on big runs – and stuff can go wrong. Only someone who has never made an error on artwork or suchlike and had sleepless nights worrying about it could feel anything other than huge empathy for the individuals involved. Personally, I have made my share of mistakes and it’s at such times you really understand the trust your clients have in you, and what a huge responsibility comes with it. Comparing battle scars is not big or clever, but such wounds do tend to focus the mind.
Secondly, there is a question of what can we learn from this? That there is no such thing as being too rigorous? That indemnity insurance is money well spent? That it pays to send all the team on factory visits to educate them about the scale of things, beyond the design on paper. Personally, as a junior designer I found it very humbling the first time I saw my artwork whizzing past on thousands upon thousands of bottles – it’s a salutary experience seeing the consequence of your design.
Thirdly, as someone commented on The Daily Telegraph article, “The packaging says ‘Spill proof’ – it does not say ‘leak proof’ … it does not say ‘indestructible’ and it does not claim anything else. To say it’s ‘dangerous’ is silly. So, well done Britvic for their ‘precautionary’ recall.” To which I would add it is to the huge credit of Britvic that they have quickly and decisively stepped up. The test of strong character is how you react in a crisis and I think Britvic have done themselves proud.
Perhaps there are no lessons to draw – other than it’s just ‘one of those things’. I guess bold innovation will by definition sometimes result in failures – it is the nature of the beast. But next time someone outside the industry suggests that packaging design is little more than poncing about, here is the example of what happens when all does not go exactly to plan.