from Kath Atkinson, marketing manager, Alcan Packaging

Sir; Having read in the press about the recent ‘prank’ labelling that appeared on a pack of HR Hargreaves & Son’s cooked, sliced ham, detailing ‘Dog Sh*t’ among its ingredients, I think it prudent to consider the consequences of such an act.
As the importance of information on packaging increases, and consumers turn more readily to the ingredients list before making a purchase decision, such an oversight could impact heavily on both brand integrity and sales. As labels increasingly move toward ‘legal document’ status, a prank of this nature could lead to more serious consequences, such as legal action.
Packaging is a powerful communications tool. Brand owners need to recognise its importance in the success of a brand or product, and appreciate that any oversight can have a far-reaching effect.
The saving grace in this case is the fact that the company has acted swiftly to terminate the employment of the ‘prankster’.