May 22, 2013
After sending a cease-and-desist letter to the organizer of an unauthorized “World Nutella Day,” the Italian company Ferrero has relented and will allow the event to proceed after all, BusinessWeek.com reports.
In February 2007, blogger and brand advocate Sara Rosso started the annual occasion for fans of the chocolaty hazelnut spread to share recipes and tributes, both online and offline. She created a website for the event and a Facebook page that has racked up nearly 40,000 “likes.”
“They asked me to take down the site because they consider it to be an unauthorized use of their intellectual property and trademarks,” Rosso told BusinessWeek.com in an email before the company’s about-face.
Considering that other brands pay to market their own “holidays,” the attempt to squash a fan’s enthusiasm may seem unusual. But Ferrero is not the only organization to be protective of its brands. Last year, the U.S. Olympic Committee reportedly sent a cease-and-desist letter to the online knitting group Ravelry to stop its marathon knit-off dubbed the “Ravelympics.”
Ferrero’s legal move stunned PR Newser, who wrote: “It exposes a level of tone deafness and corporate barbarism that one would find in a dystopian novel about zombie-machines chasing the last handful of human beings across a torched Cinque Terre for one last taste of flesh.”
On May 21, Ferrero announced it would stop its action against World Nutella Day. The case had arisen from “a routine brand-defense procedure” after some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page, but the company has since reached “appropriate solutions” with Rosso, it said. — Greg Beaubien