Flag blunder - Seprod left embarrassed after attempt at rebranding goes wrong; says reputation has suffered
The colossal error in the colour misplacement of what was supposed to be the Jamaican flag, printed on the package container of the popular and widely distributed Chiffon premium soft margarine, has left the management of Seprod Limited infuriated and embarrassed.
The misrepresentation of the sacred emblem comes in the form of a swapping of the green and black, a striking deviation from the original arrangement of colours on the flag which bears the colours of black, green and gold with the black on either side of the flag, the green at the top and lower ends and the gold stretched diagonally.
"A number of things went wrong! It clearly bypassed the established process. Everybody, including senior management people, overlooked it, and it is very embarrassing," said Richard Pandohie, the CEO and a director of Seprod in acknowledging the error.
He explained that Seprod, one of the largest manufacturers in Jamaica, had contracted a company in Canada to undertake a rebranding exercise which was to include the imprinting of the Jamaican flag on the containers, and it was during that process the error had actually been made.
The error appears on both the lid and on the sides of the package container.
Pandohie disclosed that the company first became aware of the slip up almost five months ago when customers and well-wishers of Seprod contacted him to complain about a fault in branding.
He further disclosed that those within hierarchy of the company whose job it was to do checks and balances did not do their jobs, resulting in the blunder.
Pandohie said the error has infuriated him, but was willing to take ultimate responsibility as the CEO for the embarrassing ordeal.
"It is not that we did not know better, and it is not that we had no systems in place. The [number] of people and steps that this [error] bypassed, it is mind-boggling," he added.
The CEO was unable to say how much of the badly branded product had actually been released into the domestic market, but sought to assure that "by the end of February into March, that branding would be exhausted and we will have a new one".
Pandohie said the product was not for export, but was not surprised when it was revealed to him that people within the diaspora were in possession of several units of the butter and have too noticed the flub.
"I cannot tell you how much I'm embarrassed. A lot of the people would have come back during the holidays and would have gone back with products. I know the United Kingdom diaspora well, and they are very passionate about things Jamaican," he offered as the reason for the alarm among some within the diaspora.
He was, however, adamant that there was nothing Seprod could do to prevent the package from entering the market as the packaging company had a lead time and it would have been impossible to get new packaging to meet the demand.
Pandohie, in the meantime, told The Gleaner that Seprod is being compensated for the pitfall which he says has also caused the company reputational damage.
"We have been compensated, but it is not significant in the context of the reputational damage that we have suffered."
The CEO said despite the foul-up, the customers will see significant improvements in the brand and can expect products from Seprod that will make Jamaicans proud.
"With everything else we are doing, this is not the story I wanted to be associated with Seprod. It is unfortunate because we have been doing everything else good. We are very sorry, and this is something that we hope not to happen again. We continue to be a proud Jamaican manufacturer," Pandohie said.