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We Can't Have Nice Things

Nutella Lawyers Are the Anti-Nutella, Shut Down Fan-Created World Nutella Day


First, a caveat: Nutella totally counts as a geeky interest, thank you very much. And now it’s an area of geekitude that’s being threatened by The Man. The Man in this case is Ferrero, the company that makes Nutella, which shut down World Nutella Day with a cease and desist letter to its founder, Nutella superfan Sara Rosso.

Also, by “anti-Nutella” I mean “the anthesis of all that is good in the universe. Or “the opposite of Batman,” whichever you prefer.

Wrote Rosso on NutellaDay.com:

On May 25, 2013, I’ll be darkening the World Nutella Day site, nutelladay.com, and all social media presence (Facebook, Twitter), in compliance with a cease-and-desist I received from lawyers representing Ferrero, SpA (makers of Nutella)…

Seven years after the first World Nutella Day in 2007, I never thought the idea of dedicating a day to come together for the love of a certain hazelnut spread would be embraced by so many people! I’ve seen the event grow from a few hundred food bloggers posting recipes to thousands of people Tweeting about it, pinning recipes on Pinterest, and posting their own contributions on Facebook! There have been songs sung about it, short films created for it, poems written for it, recipes tested for it, and photos taken for it.

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.

I have hope that this is not a goodbye to World Nutella Day forever, for the fans’ sake, and hopefully it will live on in one form or another in the future.

*hums Taps*

Rosso explained to HuffPo that the cease and desist letter demanded she stop publishing anything with the Nutella name, logo, or likeness and further stated that she’d still be willing to let Ferrero take over World Nutella Day, which has gotten major press coverage since its founding seven years ago. “I would have been open to any kind of discussion,” said Rosso. “[It] didn’t have to be a legal document.”

Maybe there’s more to this story, making it a massive Nutella-themed conspiracy thriller (someone get my agent on the line, I have an idea for a screenplay). Or maybe it’s just another instance of  corporate lawyers not knowing how to deal with fans. Regardless, my Nutella tastes of chocolate, hazelnuts, and tears today.

(via: Neatorama)

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  • http://www.facebook.com/andrew.semkow Andrew Paul Ross Semkow

    It sucks when you find out a company isn’t ok with their fans, it’s like the grown up version of finding out Santa isn’t real, or your favorite celebrity is not as cool as you thought.

  • Anonymous

    If you need me, I’ll be in the kitchen, microwaving some chocolate chips. ಠ_ಠ

  • http://www.fangirlwithtea.com/ Pamela

    Cough cough homemade hazelnut-cocoa spread cough cough http://www.browneyedbaker.com/2013/02/21/homemade-nutella-recipe/

  • http://twitter.com/kcunning Katie Cunningham

    I got schooled in IP rights a few years back. I wanted to make an app for an open source project. Thankfully, I talked to their lawyer first. He started laying out rules for me, and I asked him why there was a such a fuss.

    He explained that they have to defend something they have trademarked, or they can lose that trademark. It’s not that he wanted to be mean (he’s a nice guy, and they were nice people!), but if they let it slide with one person because it was cute, some not-so-nice person could come in and start monetizing off of them. Some people might want to do it in a positive way. Others might start putting out crap-ware or bad training classes that would make us look bad.

    So I don’t get upset when a company has to defend their brand. They can either defend it, or they can give it up.

  • http://twitter.com/JenniDavid1 Jenni David

    my r○○mаtе’s m○m mаκеs $75 һ○υrly ○n tһе intеrnеt. Sһе һаs bееn firеd
    f○r ninе m○ntһs bυt lаst m○ntһ һеr inc○mе wаs $21171 jυst w○rκing ○n
    tһе intеrnеt f○r а fеw һ○υrs. Rеаd m○rе ○n tһis sitе,,,,.,,….
    Fℴx85.ℂℴm

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=559945163 Melodia E. McIntyre

    It’s not the lawyers being mean or anti-fan or anything. They are hired by companies to do their jobs. They are doing their jobs.

  • Kris Talbot

    I can’t decide if I should have some Nutella in defiance, or if I should put it away and be sad that the company is acting like this.

  • http://www.facebook.com/gordon.borland.1 Gordon Borland

    How Nutty ! thanks you, thank you, here all week.

  • Marc Forrester

    This is not a competing product that might cause confusion in the marketplace, it’s fans of the actual trademarked product, willingly promoting it. The trademark is in no way threatened by this, and Ferrero’s lawyers couldn’t be more incompetent.

  • Marc Forrester

    Apparently their job is to damage the company’s public image, shut down free marketing and bully their most active enthusiast. If you find yourself saying “I’m just doing my job” it’s a pretty sure sign that you’re engaged in something at best bloody stupid, and probably evil.

  • Anonymous

    Okay. So then I’ll just by the Hazelnut/Chocolate Jif from now on. No big deal.

  • Anonymous

    or the Trader Joe’s version, which is pretty delicious. Check it out.

  • Anonymous

    Companies want to be able to control how their products are marketed, plain and simple. And they have that right. It’s perfectly fine for people to celebrate Nutella if they love it, but when it gets to the point of organized events, published literature, websites, etc, the company has to carefully watch how their product and their name are being used. That’s the cold, hard reality of business – control your product or someone else will (as Katie explained).

  • Anonymous

    TJ version has almonds, not hazelnuts. Which it totally worth checking out, and not just for those who don’t care for hazelnuts. (whistles casually, one eye on the crowd)

  • Not Impressed

    Never buying Nutella again.

  • http://www.fangirlwithtea.com/ Pamela

    They also have cookie butter, which is the most sinful stuff ever create.

  • http://www.fangirlwithtea.com/ Pamela

    They also have cookie butter, which is the most sinful stuff ever create.

  • http://twitter.com/LauraTruxillo Laura Truxillo

    “Companies want to be able to control how their products are marketed, plain and simple. And they have that right.”

    Do they really? Unofficial fandom thrives, whatever a lawyer might try. This isn’t about marketing the brand, this is people talking about it. You can’t really stop people from getting together and enjoying something. Especially in this day and age–word of mouth IS marketing, and you can’t control that.

    And this seems less akin to Disney not allowing unlicensed artwork in pre-schools (which made sense, if still a little harsh) and more like, say, Martin Guitar deciding to shut down the Unofficial Martin Guitar Forum (which they wouldn’t do). It’s unofficial, not controlled by the company, but it causes no harm and doesn’t control anything, and encourages people to purchase their product.

  • http://twitter.com/JenniDavid1 Jenni David

    til I look℮d at the bank draft which said $9901, I didn’t b℮li℮v℮ that…my… fri℮nd had b℮℮n actual℮y bringing in mon℮y part-tim℮ on th℮ir appl℮ labtop.. th℮r℮ dads buddy has b℮℮n doing this 4 l℮ss than 15 months and r℮santly took car℮ of th℮ d℮pt on th℮ir condo and bourt th℮ms℮lv℮s a Lancia. we look℮d h℮r℮…….. Fℴx85.ℂℴm

  • http://twitter.com/gotham_girl85 Erica M.

    Of course they have that right, it’s their trademark. The cease and desist specifically said for them not to use their name, logo or likeness in any official capacity. A facebook page, twitter account etc using ‘World Nutella Day’ definitely falls under that kind of usage.

    Does that mean it sounds very nice of the company to do this? No. The company has to do it though in case say, Rosso had a child who became allergic and ate Nutella and she put it on this facebook page/twitter account that Nutella is dangerous for children now. That would cause untold amounts of BAD coverage against the company since ‘World Nutella Day’ has thousands of people looking at it daily. The main company has to be in control of anything like this. It’s not personal.

    There will still be good word of mouth marketing and new recipes put up on websites, etc. It just will all be unofficial now, which is all the cease and desist requested. I’m surprised she just can’t change the name to Unoffical or something that doesn’t have the word ‘Nutella’ in it at all, since that usually appeases big compaines, but there may be more then has been revealed or perhaps she just didn’t want to.

  • Anonymous

    Companies are also dying to get into viral marketing–marketing that is done by others for free, for you. If they wanted more control of their free advertising campaign, they could have approached it from a more friendly perspective.

    It’s like giving someone a birthday gift and having them say, “I don’t want it.” You’re under no obligation to accept gifts, but if you say it harshly and without good reason, it comes across as high-handed. The giver’s feelings might get hurt. Turning down fan-made free advertising with a cease and desist letter comes across as high-handed. If you hurt the fans feelings, they might not want to buy your product anymore. That’s the cold, hard reality of public relations.

  • Anonymous

    There’s nothing wrong with fandom, and I doubt Ferrero has a problem with Nutella having enthusiastic supporters. The issue is how that support is expressed. For instance, some authors love fanfic and some despise it. While I support the whole culture of fanfic, I understand that authors can be protective of their properties and how they are portrayed publicly. If I were JK Rowling I wouldn’t want to hear about Harry Potter fanfic (or events) that sullied my property by abusing it. So, I can see how a company would feel the same way about a product line.

    I imagine Ferrero has two concerns: 1) if they don’t strictly enforce their trademarks they allow for the possibility that their image/product will be negatively portrayed and that they will have lost some of their ability to deal with it, and 2) they want to ensure that the way their product is being represented publicly is fair and appropriate.

    Not all word of mouth is “positive” marketing.

  • Anonymous

    Labeling the fest a “gift” is awfully generous and slightly misleading. While it certainly is a celebration, it isn’t intended as some offering to Ferrero – it’s a bunch of fans of Nutella enjoying the product within that community, with the possible consequence of bringing more fans into the Nutella fold (or, alienating potential fans, as is often seen in geek properties; I don’t know how many people I’ve encountered who have been intimidated by rabid fanbases, ie Browncoats; and thought I can’t possibly see Nutella fans as “rabid,” if non-Nutella consumers begin to think of this product as “specialty” or having a “cult” following or just being played out/corny, who knows whether they will be turned on to it or off). The “gift”, I would argue is the purchase of the product, which is the most direct and powerful way of supporting a product or company. Organizing an unofficial World Nutella Day is just adding to Ferrero’s worries about how their product is going to be used and portrayed, which they may (and probably do considering the cease and desist) see as more nuisance than “gift.”

    If you look at this issue from Ferrero’s perspective you’d see a company worried that they are losing control of their product and its image. I’m sure they’re flattered by the support, but image is a fragile thing for a business, and if something negative happens to it it’s tough to fix.

    Fandom is cool, but we shouldn’t start believing that it is our obligation or right to hijack the marketing of our favorite products. It’s similar to fans of film or tv properties – enjoy the show, just don’t try to take over the production and advertising of it. [See myriad Dark Knight fan-made posters that totally miss the point of Batman by depicting him mowing down enemies with guns]. If Ferrero wants “viral” marketing they’ll do what other companies (Old Spice, for instance) have done and try to engineer it – and at least they will have to ultimate responsibility for its success or failure.

  • http://www.nostalgiajunkie.net/ nostalgiajunkie

    That’s kind of a dick move, but then again, I find the Cult of Nutella slightly disturbing.

  • http://twitter.com/Taste_is_Sweet Aundrea Singer

    Clearly and interestingly put. It just seems that–at least from this outsider’s perspective–that Ferrero might have done something that doesn’t come across as ‘The Man’ once again quashing an innocent celebration of their product. Obviously I don’t know more of the story than what was written here, but it does make the company look bad, regardless of their motivations behind it and even how reasonable those motivations might be.

  • Anonymous

    You’re absolutely right (and others who point it out) that companies can be quite overbearing when it comes to enforcing trademark/copyright (the whole Jayne Cobb/Etsy kerfuffle comes to mind). But I don’t envy them the responsibility of having to protect their image. It seems to me that in this particular case Ferrero was being more proactive in protecting their image so that celebrations wouldn’t eventually descend into something not-so-innocent (I don’t know…maybe Nutella bikini-wrestling competitions, or unsanctioned Nutella eating contests that may result in unfortunate injuries to contestants).

    It would have been cool if both sides could have worked together to fashion something of an original celebration – and from her statement Rosso even states that she’s worked with people at Ferrero. So I’m not sure what the eventual hang-up was. But from the description of recipes, tweets, films, songs, etc the celebration may have been growing beyond Ferrero’s comfort level and they felt they had to rein it in before…bikini wrestling. Or something.

  • http://twitter.com/RockShrimp Willow

    There are many ways for companies to handle things like this and some of them are better than others – for example, Coke. http://adage.com/article/digital/coke-fans-brought-brand-facebook-fame/135238/

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Kellie-McMahan/1639013420 Kellie McMahan

    And now everyone turns to the Jiff Chocolate for Nutella has lost my soul this day

  • http://twitter.com/HolliLoki HolliLoki

    Trust me when I tell you that the Nutella sold in the US is UTTER SHITE compared to the stuff in Europe. Go try to find the real stuff, and you’ll see. It’s because the laws overseas that establish “what is chocolate” are WAY stricter than the laws in the US that let stuff get diluted with corn syrup.