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Nutella Lawyers Hate It When Fans Love Nutella

Sara Rosso loves Nutella. In fact, she loved it so much that seven years ago, the hazelnut chocolate spread superfan founded World Nutella Day, a celebration of all things Nutella.

Over the years, the event grew from a few food bloggers posting recipes to thousands of participants Tweeting, pinning recipes on Pinterest, making songs, poems, and short films.

It's not surprising, because, as you know, yummy Nutella goes with everything. Well, almost everything. There's one thing that doesn't mix well with Nutella and its fans: lawyers.

Sara Rosso wrote on World Nutella Day's website:

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.

Nutella dissing its fans? Now that's just plain nuts: Link

We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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My guess is that they're over-reacting a little to fear of brand dilution, that if the Nutella Day thing catches on enough that it might become the kind of deal where Nutella might come to mean all hazelnut spread. Like "kleenex" coming into general use for all facial tissue or "google" for all search engine queries or "xerox" for all photocopies. They want to help make sure that they control the Nutella name and keep it only meaning the official Nutella branded product.

Or the celebration could take a weird unforseen turn and become associated with something they wouldn't necessarily want connected with their brand. Like maybe people all getting naked and smearing themselves with Nutella and doing something naughty. Or someone having a big Nutella Day event and someone who didn't know they were diabetic eating a ridiculously huge amount of Nutella in a Nutella eating contest and dying from the sugar overdose. Crazy stuff that could make them look bad even though they did nothing as a company to prompt or support it.

If I were them, it's not nearly a big enough deal to worry about that yet. I'd be much happier to be getting all the free positive publicity than I would be worried about maintaining an iron grip on the name.

It could be a bit of a form letter over-reach,too. Lots of corporations have big batches of cease and desists that get sent to just about anyone and everyone using anything connected with their brand name. It doesn't have to legally hold water. It doesn't have to be relevant. There may be no human beings doing much if any checking at all as to what the site is and if they are infringing or not. It may just get sent in bulk to the holder of the domain just because the keyword "nutella" is triggered automatically.
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