Sunday, May 19

Ferrero's NO NUTELLA DAY: Eating Chocolate-Covered Crow

When I was growing up in the food-friendly, marketing savvy USA, field trips weren't always made to cultural sites [although, the Henry Ford Museum & The Stratford Festival were part of the programming, as was a concert in Chicago of - Engelbert Humperdinck no less -- it was the height of Motown, bordering on Bob Segar's Rock&Roll & Patty Smith, so you can imagine how thrilled a bunch of teens were about that choice of venue...] Some of my earliest memories were class trips taken to Detroit's Wonderbread Factory, the Vernor's Ginger Ale factory and even to Stroh's Brewery where we were served up helpings of ice cream, not beer (although the adults could imbibe - even those on the job!)  Companies made sure we were given copious helpings of whatever it was they happened to be making that day.  And it worked.  We were hooked (and anyone who knows me will know that I will walk to all ends of the earth for a cool glass of ginger ale, which one can find in Italy, if you just put your mind to it).
So I was somewhat surprised when, on the World Nutella Day facebook page, two fellow bloggers & Nutella aficionados had posted this picture of their factory visit along with this caption below:
 Guess where we are? Ferrero's factory in Alba, Italy. 
Unfortunately, it's not open to the public--no Nutella tasting on site!

Anyone who follows my blog will know that one of my favorite mantras of Life in Italy is that the entire country needs a crash course in Marketing101.  Here we have one of the most successful companies on Planet Earth, kiddie visits, no free samples, no glorious Benvenuti! from the likes of Guglielmo Wonka.  If I were a marketing consultant, I would send the entire staff on a field trip over to Hershey, Pennsylvania--rollercoaster park and all--but then again, given their global success, perhaps Ferrero really doesn't need the hassle.
Well, this became quite true when founders of the (unpaid) no. 1 Fan Club and probably most successful food fan club at that, having proudly established a worldwide phenomenon of World Nutella Day, were given 30 days to cease & desist.  Basically, seal it up like a heavy glass jar and, leave our brand alone, Grazie (or no Grazie as the case may be).
I cannot, for the life of me, get my head around what a short-sighted and unbelievably stupid move this has been for one great conglomerate.  You want to shut down people who freely profess their love of your product, and all the while for free?  To do what?  Give it to an ad agency who will charge you millions to produce the same warm fuzzies?  If this is not a case of sour grapes, I don't know what is.
It reminded me of the guy who made incredibly sturdy and recyclable furniture out of Fedex boxes.  He, too, was told in no uncertain terms to box it up.  A smart marketing exec over at UPS immediately offered him as many cartons as he'd like to keep production going strong.  Lego, in an effort to protect their brand, just allowed the Rest of the World to dilute it by forcing them to call the Lego's, 'Bricks'.
But World Nutella Day is not a moniker, like Kleenex or Xerox™.  It's an event.  Did I mention a 'free' one at that?  And one that no one involved was making any money out of, besides?  Simply put, it was a fun-filled, deliciously chocolately experience.  So you shut them down 'cuz it's too popular?
It's no wonder I'm not a beer drinker. Not given the samples when we were youngsters, I never got truly hooked (save for during my college years, which I can't truly comment on, because I don't remember a thing)As for Nutella™, once you come out of your sugar-induced stupor, perhaps you can tell us what's really behind all this.  In the meantime, I can't wait to see you in Business School marketing textbooks as a case history on 'what went wrong' - right up there with the change of recipe of Classic Coke, or Perrier's botched response to the chemical scare back in the 1980s. 
In the meantime, for all you Nutella Lovers out there, I propose a boycott.  And, to help you along, here's a wonderful little recipe on how to make your very own chocolate spread delight.  You can even freeze it in ice cube trays and make your very own little Lego Blocks errr...Not Nutella Bricks.
Picture from


kelly said...

There's a product called Justins hazelnut butter that I believe is better than nutella-the american version at least (which is different than the italian formula). I will proudly eat Justins on world....gianduia day.

Harm said...

Fun! I never caught the Nutella bug, but this marketing critique brings me back to the moment I met Francesca. And many of the sparkling moments since!

Anonymous said...

Great country; no business sense. I'll just go back to my favorite Trader Joe's peanut butter.

Irreverent Italy said...

Looks like after worldwide nuttiness took them by a storm, Ferrero has decided to eat chocolate-covered crow.

So, their free 50.000-strong fan website will still get their day...
But still...

Michelle said...

Wow, I can't see how this move makes business sense. I remember my trip to the Hershey factory when I was a kid... hard to picture that in Italy for some reason. I don't think Nutella is suffering from a shortage of sales in any case.

VDG said...

Italians and marketing... Italians and cutomer service... don't get me started!
I bet the reason you're not allowed in the factory is because Nutella is so full of unhealthy junk, and this would be too painfully obvious if you actually saw them make it!

Irreverent Italy said...

VDG...but anything so sickeningly delicious, chocolately & sweet - it's why we eat nutella!

Although they did get nailed for trying to make it a healthy breakfast choice...!