Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Nutella Goes Nutty, Bans Fan's Celebration of Its Brand

Fans of the hazelnut-flavored spread Nutella are going nuts over the company's lawyers sending a "cease and desist" letter to fan Sara Rosso, who, since 2007, has sponsored an unofficial "World Nutella Day" on Feb. 5th each year. (See Time magazine and Gawker reports.)

While I'm not a fan of hazelnuts, or hazelnut spreads, sending out the lawyers to attack an unofficial FAN holiday celebration of your product is a rather NUTTY way to handle a fan base. 

As Gawker notes, "Many brands would kill for a hugely popular, entirely fan-fueled International "holiday" dedicated to expressing affection for their product by buying it by the boatload."

A post on Rosso's facebook fan page notes that the factory in Italy doesn't even have tours. The company clearly is missing out on generating a lot of goodwill here, and may not know how to reach out to customers properly.

This is all the more amazing when we learn that Russo had frequent (though unofficial) contact with the company's PR department to coordinate activities. In her farewell address on the fan page, she writes,
The cease-and-desist letter was a bit of a surprise and a disappointment, as over the years I’ve had contact and positive experiences with several employees of Ferrero, SpA., and with their public relations and brand strategy consultants, and I’ve always tried to collaborate and work together in the spirit and goodwill of a fan-run celebration of a spread I (to this day) still eat.
Let's hope the company comes to its senses and realizes the massive PR error it's making by deliberately antagonizing its huge fan base across the globe.