Nutella Exemplifies How Not to Use Social Media

By Cameron Scott 

nutella, facebook, world nutella day, social media, social marketingFacing an online revolt, Ferrero, the company that makes Nutella, rescinded a cease-and-desist letter it had sent to the organizer of World Nutella Day, an online event to celebrate the delicious chocolate-hazelnut spread.

“I’m relieved to say there’s been a positive resolution to the situation. Ferrero employees reached out to me directly after I had posted my fan letter online and sent my formal reply to their C&D [cease-and-desist letter]. They were very gracious and supportive and we were able to have a productive discussion about World Nutella Day living on for the fans, which is the whole point,” said the event’s organizer Sara Rosso.

But even in its Facebook post apologizing for the fiasco, Ferrero still showed a lack of social grace.

“The case arose from a routine brand defense procedure that was activated as a result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page,” the post said.

The case is what Brian Solis, author of What’s the Future of Business, would call a classic example of a company not keeping up with the changes social media have brought to marketing. Brands need to create a unified experience around their brand that applies regardless of how consumers first learn about it, the book argues. Many might learn about Nutella through World Nutella Day, and Nutella surely doesn’t want to be a brand with phrases like “cease-and-desist order” and “routine brand defense procedure” associated with it.

Social media users stepped in to educate Ferrero on marketing in the social age after Rosso said on her blog that she may have to cancel World Nutella Day in 2014.

“Unbelievable – who made the idiotic decision to send a cease and desist letter to Sara Rosso, who did a better job of promoting your product than your company does??,” Kim Trujillo posted on Nutella’s Facebook page, which boasts 17 million fans.

“I always bought an extra jar to celebrate Nutella Day. After hearing about cease & desist letter sent to your ‘superfan’ Sara Rosso, I plan to stop buying. Should have given her a nice promotion, like Free Nutella for Year, not nasty lawyer letter. Don’t you want to support efforts to get customers to buy your product?” asked Karen Genberg Larosa.

The company appears to have sort of gotten it.

“Ferrero considers itself fortunate to have such devoted and loyal fans of its Nutella spread, like Sara Rosso,” it said in its Facebook post.