Sara Rosso, an American blogger living in Italy, founded the World Nutella Day celebrations – which take place every 5 February – in 2007. It has since racked up almost 40,000 Facebook fan, 7,000 Twitter followers and it plays a part in a year-round website which promotes Nutella with recipes and fan stories.
Rosso says she will be “darkening” the World Nutella Day site and its social media presence from 25 May to comply with a cease and desist request she received from lawyers representing Ferrero SpA.
The move is in contrast to other brands’ efforts in similar situations, such as Coca-Cola, whose Facebook fan page was actually set up unofficially by two fans before the brand took guardianship – although the original creators still have involvement and have been invited for meetings and a tour of the company’s HQ.
When social media agency We Are Social noticed fans of its client Marmite were sharing content on social around the brand of their own accord, it decided to embrace the engagement and form the “Marmarati” campaign. The Marmarati community invited Marmite fans to participate in brand-related challenges in order to win badges and climb up league tables.
We Are Social managing partner Jim Coleman said the Nutella team should have seized the opportunity to “champion and hero” the World Nutella Day community and say “we love people who love the brand”, rather than being “dictatorial”. He suggests, however, the legal team may have been “risk averse” about an unofficial site using Nutella’s logos and potentially profiteering from the brand from an unofficial recipe book and advertising from the site.
Gary Andrews, digital campaign and communities manager at communications agency Ruder Finn, says he “cannot see the logic” in the “counteractive” approach from Ferrero and the brand must now reach out to Rosso and offer her involvement, while also communicating with fans of World Nutella day that it got it wrong.
Andrews adds: “The more they stay silent and try to ignore it, a brief Twitter storm [in reaction to the news] could lead to Nutella’s evangelists being turned off their brand – and these are the last people you want to be turning off, it could turn into a potential nightmare.”
Ferrero’s move to issue a legal threat indicated it is “out of touch with its customers”, according to Conversocial founder Joshua March. Upsetting its advocates “will probably have a real impact on sales and the brand”, he adds.
Both Ferrero and Sara Rosso, the founder of World Nutella Day, did not respond to requests for comment in time for publication.