Case Studies: Nutella

Marketers were shown exactly what not to do on social media in this week’s Case Studies on Nutella.

Case Studies on nutella It is a brand that so many are fond of. And yet, in this week’s Case Studies on Nutella, this brand showcases exactly how they damaged that loyalty by not understanding the rules of the social media game.

On February 5th, 2007, Nutella super-fan, Sara Russo held the first annual World Nutella Day. Over the last few years, the unofficial event has become something of a phenomenon: 40,000 Facebook fans, 6,500 Twitter followers and featurettes on authoritative blogs (understandably, considering Sara Rosso and fellow Nutella fan Michelle Fabio operates their own blogs).

Case Studies on nutella what not to do on social mediaFor most brands and marketers, this is a dream come true. A fan-organized day, recognized internationally that promotes your product and touts its excellence…for free! This kind of publicity is the thing of legend, and it would make sense, after years of loyalty and dedication to Nutella, that Rosso be recognized and thanked by the brand and its parent company, right?

Well, she was certainly recognized by the brand, but the thanks must have gotten lost in the mail. All that showed up was a cease and desist letter from the legal department of Ferrero, Nutella’s parent company.

In what is widely perceived as a catastrophic brand blunder, there is a lot that marketers can learn. Sometimes, the best lessons are those that teach us what not to do.

Let the Good Times Roll

It was never suggested that World Nutella Day involved Nutella or Ferrero officially. In fact, it was very clearly understood to be unaffiliated with the brand. It was just a group of fans proclaiming their love for a tasty product.

When fans are talking and generating buzz, feel free to engage, but don’t step in front of a moving train. The momentum that this event has built over the last six years is much more delicate than it might appear to be. This kind of traction is easily derailed (sorry about all the train metaphors) if not approached carefully. So, when there is buzz about your brand, and the results are nothing but positive, let it ride.

It’s not every day you get free positive publicity.

Everyone Sees Everything

Perhaps the largest oversight in the actions taken by the legal team at Ferrero was not considering the power of social media and the viral effect.

If the only thought was that a paper copy of a cease and desist was going to remain hidden from the public eye, then shame on the senior executive that approved the course of action. Everyone, in every department should always consider the vast power that virality and social media can have on any given action. The question, “What happens if this gets out on Facebook?” should never go unasked, and that is exactly what happened in this situation.

Case Studies on nutella 2Love Your Loyalists

Brand loyalists are the key to your brand’s expansion and long-term success. If you are the only one talking about your brand, eventually people might get tired of listening. So when you see someone professing love for your brand, reach out and thank them; never ask them to stop. In fact, go out of your way to make sure they continue.

Andrea Stegmann, a fan of World Nutella Day expressed her shock and disappointment on the event’s Facebook page: “This is some sad news. And I actually lost respect and love for Ferrero. You’ve [done] nothing but promote Nutella. They should thank you and send you Nutella for a life time. And not send cease and desist letters.”

After the outcry, World Nutella Day was reinstated and the cease and desist was dropped by Ferrero. But it all could have been avoided if the power and influence of a strong social community was taken into account from the outset.

What actions do you think Ferrero should have taken in this case? Tell us in the comments below or on Twitter!

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