Makers Of Nutella Force Fan Who Created World Nutella Day To Shut It Down [Updated]

from the raining-on-everyone's-parade dept

Update: As of today, there are reports that Ferrero has been in contact with Sarah Russo and has worked out an arrangement by which Nutella Day will be reinstated with the company's blessing. The company is blaming the cease & desist on over-zealous lawyers as opposed to any public backlash. This may satisfy some people, while others will note that aggressive intellectual property laws and protection lead to this kind of collateral damage all the time.

Ferrero, the makers of Nutella, a hazelnut/chocolate spread that enjoys a love from people that I'll never understand (disclaimer: I hate chocolate), sure doesn't like anyone to use anything remotely like its name ever. You may not recall that it pushed back against the P2P network Gnutella a decade ago over their name being too similar. While you could argue that might be at least somewhat understandable, how about when the company went legal on a smoothie shop for selling a shake that used its product and had the daring gall to, you know, tell people what was in it? Well, perhaps you think that at least Ferrero was targeting a commercial enterprise, even if doing so resulted in one less shop buying Nutella. I mean, it isn't like the company was going after ordinary customers who liked its product, right?


Well, ChurchHatesTucker writes in to inform us that Ferrero is doing exactly that, because f#$@ the fans, damn it. See, there is apparently something called World Nutella Day, which is ironically on my birthday (God, I hate Nutella...), where one website encourages everyone on the planet to cook something with Nutella. This, naturally, requires people to buy Nutella. Or it did, rather, until Ferrero threatened the creator of World Nutella Day with a cease and desist, forcing her to shut down the site completely. Via World Nutella Day founder, Sara Rosso:

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). 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.
Yup, you read that correctly. The makers of Nutella darkened a website purely designed to promote its product, even after directly working with Rosso for the last seven years. It's almost as if Ferrero doesn't want anyone to eat Nutella, with which I happen to whole-heartedly agree. No attempt to work out some kind of an arrangement, no even-handed license of the trademark, no humanity whatsoever. It's just, "Hey, thanks for being a fan, now shut it all down because the lawyers flipped out and somehow think you're harming us."

Honestly, the stunning part to me is how genteel Rosso appears to be about all this.
I've spent hundreds of hours interacting with you, the fans, collecting and sharing your contributions, updating the World Nutella Day website with more than 700 recipes which were painstakingly gathered from bloggers sending me their posts and by scouring the internet for the best Nutella recipes, Tweeting and sharing on Facebook your favorite sayings, stories, and links about Nutella, and encouraging everyone to try it just once! Thanks for letting me be a part of that – it was truly a labor of love by a fan and something I did as a fan, in my (very little) spare time, and I have a full-time job I love. I hope that February 5th stays alive in your hearts and on your spoons, and hopefully it's arrivederci (see you soon) and not addio (goodbye).
It's hard to imagine someone sounding so sweet over the company of which she's a fan pulling such a brash and damnable move. I'd be livid, not hoping to start the site back up once Ferrero had a stupidectomy. I might even be encouraging everyone within earshot not to buy from a company that would pull this kind of stunt. Then again, perhaps I'm not as sweet as Russo because I'm not filled with Nutella spread. Who knows, but I'm sure there are many former customers of Nutella today.



Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 11:10am

    Maybe they're about to pull a "New Coke"

    For all we know, they're about to make a drastic change to the nutella ingredients and don't want a bunch of fan sites to document the disaster...

    Maybe shut down the critics early, and decrease the drama later?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:11am

    World Nutella Day sounds like a fantastic way to promote Nutella. Why on earth would they want to shut that down?

    Perhaps they were jealous that they didn't think of it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    icon
    kenichi tanaka (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:16am

    Thanks for reporting on this. When I submitted this a few days ago, I didn't think Techdirt would cover it. But, it was odd because many news media websites had also supported "World Nutella Day" and it had became so huge that the event and the fan website had become a 'media covered event" and now Nutella is shutting it down.

    I wonder if Nutella is just trying to gain control over this in an effort to make money from it. But, it's a crying shame because Nutella has been getting slammed from Nutella consumers and they're hitting back with a lot of hateful comments aimed at Nutella's direction.

    I think this is something that Nutella needs to step back and admit that they made a mistake.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    icon
    Violated (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:17am

    Nutella has just gone peanut butter on fans.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    icon
    TheLastCzarnian (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:23am

    TIL...

    I now know 2 things...

    1. Tim's birthday.
    2. What to get Tim for his birthday.

    I personally love Nutella, but I don't really buy it and certainly won't after this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:26am

    Re: TIL...

    I love Nutella too, especially on that very British snack, crumpets.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    icon
    fogbugzd (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:29am

    This is typically the kind of situation that happens when lawyers are allowed to become too influential in the board room. Too many companies base decisions on what their lawyers tell them rather than applying actual business logic. Sometimes a business should listen to its lawyers, but keep in mind that they tend to see the world in terms of extremes. Just because you CAN shut something down does not mean you SHOULD shut that thing down.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Lucy, May 21st, 2013 @ 11:30am

    I could always take it or leave it. Now I will be sure to leave it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 11:33am

    Everyone should just switch to Biscoff Cookie Spread. It's just cookies mashed into a paste with a touch of oil and it goes on everything.

    EVERYTHING.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 11:34am

    Re: Re: TIL...

    Odd, I have just gone through my cupboards and threw away a very old mouldy tub of Nutella and some mouldy Crumpets!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 11:36am

    Every day it's the same thing

    Rabid lawyers pounce on product's fans, company's reputation gets dragged through the mud for no good reason.
    Why does this keep happening? Are there just that many companies out there with no control over their legal teams, who apparently could not care less about the collateral damage as long as they can keep racking up billable hours?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    identicon
    Vic, May 21st, 2013 @ 11:37am

    Anybody here cares to re-create the world-wide celebration on the same day? Let's just call it a World No-Tella Day?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  13.  
    icon
    davebarnes (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:39am

    You could buy/make something else

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  14.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:39am

    Re:

    How long will that stay up?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  15.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 11:52am

    Re: Re: Re: TIL...

    Two things that never last too long in our house :-)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
    icon
    Violated (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 12:01pm

    Re: Re:

    No-Tella

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  17.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 12:02pm

    Re:

    i'd get behind that.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  18.  
    identicon
    NotACollegeStudent, May 21st, 2013 @ 12:03pm

    Re: Re:

    How long will that stay up?
    That's what SHE said...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  19.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 12:05pm

    it would be a smart move now to try to get the fan site back up and running and get rid of the idiot lawyer that issued the cease and desist and then get rid of whoever the plum is that agreed with the take down. i would have thought that every company out there wants as many positive reports on the products as possible!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  20.  
    identicon
    NotACollegeStudent, May 21st, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re: Re:

    i'd get behind that.
    That's what...oh, never mind....

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  21.  
    icon
    velox (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 12:10pm

    Re:

    "This is typically the kind of situation that happens when lawyers are allowed to become too influential"
    You are exactly right.
    There is also another related [poor] business strategy: Sign on with a consulting firm that will provide "full service" protection of your brands and IP. In that situation, the business may not even be directly involved in the decision to do send this type of letter.

    Hint for the MBA set: Any time your decision making process consists of "leaving it up to" someone who is in a different business than you, watch out. They may be making decisions that are not necessarily in your best interest.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 12:21pm

    I'd like to know what the basis for the cease-and-desist letter was. Was the lawyer making a trademark claim? Because unless the fansite was selling products or advertising, I'm not sure their use of "Nutella" to simply organize a community constitutes "use in commerce."

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  23.  
    icon
    Dirkmaster (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 12:22pm

    You know, I've seen this stuff at the grocery store forever, and didn't really know what it was, so never bought it.

    Sure as hell won't now, no matter how delicious some think it is (sorry Tim!). Companies who behave this way should not be encouraged with patronage.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  24.  
    icon
    The Groove Tiger (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 12:26pm

    I say we start the official World Please Don't Eat Any Nut-based Chocolate Spread Today Or You'll Get Sued Day. We can put it in any arbitrary date, let's say, February 5th.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  25.  
    icon
    Zakida Paul (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 12:30pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Ba boom tish

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  26.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 12:32pm

    Re: TIL...

    JIF makes a great nutella knock off at half the price.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  27.  
    icon
    OldMugwump (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Why do people always cave immediately when they get a baseless C&D letter? And then complain publicly about it?

    Why don't any of them simply say "Ha - you have no case. See you in court, asshole."?

    I don't get why people are so easily cowed.

    (BTW, I can't stand Nutella either.)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  28.  
    identicon
    Mr. Applegate, May 21st, 2013 @ 1:14pm

    Good Bye Nutella

    Hello "Kroger Hazelnut Chocolate Spread"

    Or I will just make my own.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 1:19pm

    Dear Ferrero SpA

    Until recently, I used to recommend your product, Nutella, over all others, but I will now instead recommend supermarket own brands on the basis that they taste very similar, have near identical nutritional values, and are a lot easier on the pocket. I have taken this decision in light of the fact that any promotion of your brands could lead to litigation, so I am now going to do the exact opposite.
    Yours very sincerely, Sheogorath.
    P.S. Ferrero Rocher are not 'eccellente'.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  30.  
    icon
    Ockham's Stubble (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 1:23pm

    Re: use in commerce`

    If she had advertising supporting the site... that could qualify.

    Great, now you have me rationalizing on behalf of lawyers.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 1:24pm

    Re:

    Oh, gee, I don't know, Old Mugwump. Maybe because of the huge cost for the defendant of even meritless cases?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  32.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 1:26pm

    UPDATE:
    https://www.facebook.com/Nutella?ref=ts&fref=ts#
    They changed their mind

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  33.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 1:28pm

    Re:

    must be great on cookies...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  34.  
    icon
    tawsenior (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 1:51pm

    There has been an update posted on Facebook

    WORLD NUTELLA DAY: A POSITIVE CONCLUSION

    Positive direct contact between Ferrero and Sara Rosso, owner of the non-official Nutella fan page World Nutella Day, has brought an end to the case.
    Ferrero would like to express to Sara Rosso its sincere gratitude for her passion for Nutella, gratitude which is extended to all fans of the World Nutella Day.
    The case arose from a routine brand defense procedure that was activated as a result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page.
    Ferrero is pleased to announce that today, after contacting Sara Rosso and finding together the appropriate solutions, it immediately stopped the previous action.
    Ferrero considers itself fortunate to have such devoted and loyal fans of its Nutella spread, like Sara Rosso.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  35.  
    identicon
    Bill, May 21st, 2013 @ 1:57pm

    Her website says that the issue has now been resolved. http://www.nutelladay.com/

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  36.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 2:21pm

    Re: Every day it's the same thing

    It seems to be a very common occurance.

    Blizzard, who is known for being relatively lax on enforcement, went legal on Valve for the names of the heroes in DOTA 2.

    I think there is something very wrong with the way enforcement is forced on companies to keep a consistent line on allowing use. To me it would seem relatively easy to make a standard contract describing what you will allow the product to be used for without needing licensing (which should be copyright as it stands today) and having standard licenses for the most common uses like non-corporate non-profit, commercial and transformative commercial.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  37.  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 2:35pm

    Re: Can they spell Streisand?

    I think that the "S" Effect will soon give them a great big whack upside the head - as in "How could we have been so stupid!"... :rolleyes: At least, one can hope!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  38.  
    icon
    Mike Masnick (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 2:59pm

    Re: There has been an update posted on Facebook

    Yes, Tim added an update to the post. Thanks!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  39.  
    icon
    John85851 (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 3:12pm

    Not acceptable

    "It's just, "Hey, thanks for being a fan, now shut it all down because the lawyers flipped out and somehow think you're harming us." "

    Where did they say "thanks for being a fan"?

    Also, can we please, please stop with the "overzealous lawyers" and "third-party affiliates" nonsense. The company HIRED these lawyers to issue takedown notices, and I'm guessing without the oversight of the company. In turn, the lawyers make money by billing the company for all the hours they spend finding sites and taking down notices- it's not their job to decide which sites are good or bad.

    The company should he held MORE responsible when something like this happens.

    Who's up for starting "Protest Nutella Day"?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  40.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 21st, 2013 @ 3:25pm

    Re:

    Read up on the history of Veoh. It doesn't matter if the law's on your side, or even if you get a "not guilty" verdict. If a big company doesn't like you, it can and will drag you into court until you go bankrupt.
    The court system is broken. Even judges are starting to recognize it. Hopefully at some point we'll switch to a "loser pays" legal system, but until then...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  41.  
    icon
    btr1701 (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 4:13pm

    Egad

    > (disclaimer: I hate chocolate)

    Communist!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  42.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 6:04pm

    No Nutella for me

    I don't care that there's been a reconsideration on Ferrero's part, any company that hires lawyers and doesn't oversee their actions doesn't deserve what business I might drive their way, so I'm continuing my boycott. World Chocolate Spread Day is on February 5th, 2014, everybody!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  43.  
    icon
    AzureSky (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 7:34pm

    Re: Re: TIL...

    link please.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  44.  
    icon
    AzureSky (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 7:38pm

    Re: Re: There has been an update posted on Facebook

    im still not gonna buy their products after this stunt, they can go fornicate themselves if they wana act like this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  45.  
    icon
    RadialSkid (profile), May 21st, 2013 @ 8:46pm

    I responded to this Nutella story yesterday with a short, but concise video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VJjjx0lijF0

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  46.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 1:30am

    Re: Re: Every day it's the same thing

    anytime a company says it will allow a product to be used for X purpose, that is a type of license. It's known as a blanket license.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  47.  
    icon
    PaulT (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 1:33am

    Re: Every day it's the same thing

    "Why does this keep happening?"

    Because lawyers don't really care about the publicity and reputation aspects as long as they get paid, and the companies have been conned into thinking they need aggressive copyright and trademark defences from the lawyers. Until they wake up and realise that the collateral damage can actually be worse than whatever they're defending against to begin with, it will continue.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  48.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 1:36am

    Re: Not acceptable

    you are not wrong that the issue is insufficient supervision of the lawyers sending out these notices, but it is important that it was a third party sending out the notices, because it is a different kind of stupidity. Incidentally, the reason why the notice is sent out is because there was apparently some form of misuse of the trademark. Legally, you have to enforce a trademark, or you lose it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  49.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 2:30am

    Re: Re: TIL...

    Over here in the UK, we've got a franchise called Shakeaway that does blended milkshakes with various ingredients. Refreshers, Snickers, Oreos, you name it.

    Having one with peanut butter and Nutella is especially nice. I recommend it (although PB/Nutella sandwich goes well too).

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  50.  
    identicon
    Reality Check, May 22nd, 2013 @ 2:45am

    Re: Re: Not acceptable

    Actually enforcing a trademark is NOTHING like harassing a fan. NOTHING.

    Enforcing a trademark is preventing others from labeling their chocolate hazelnut spread with a logo and/or name that looks like yours, so that an 'idiot in a hurry' would mistakenly buy their product thinking it was yours.

    Enforcing a trademark is completely unrelated to harassing people who use your trademark to refer to YOUR product.

    That's the key, this person was actually referring to Nutella. So, no trademark infringement, just common everyday IP bullying and lunacy.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  51.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: Re: TIL...

    Ooo, where are they? I don't know of any in Scotland...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  52.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:16am

    Re: Re: Re: TIL...

    Ooo, where are they? I don't know of any in Scotland...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  53.  
    icon
    Niall (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 5:19am

    Re: No Nutella for me

    Couldn't you have picked a closer day, like one in the near future, not 8 months away? :(

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  54.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:36am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: TIL...

    There's one up in Edinburgh, on Rose Street. Most of the other stores are in England.

    There's also another franchise group called Shakebar, which is damn near the same thing though, there's one in Buchanan Galleries in Glasgow, a small one in the Livingston outlet mall, and one next to the jewelry places across from the Thistle Centre in Stirling, right before the road leading up to the castle.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  55.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:09pm

    Re: Re: No Nutella for me

    What about August 1st, Saint Lammas' Day and the day after Harry Potter's birthday?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  56.  
    icon
    Sheogorath (profile), May 22nd, 2013 @ 6:10pm

    Re: Re: No Nutella for me

    What about August 1st, Saint Lammas' Day and the day after Harry Potter's birthday?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  57.  
    icon
    Andreas (profile), May 23rd, 2013 @ 2:56am

    There won't be a single former customer today, as this combination of industrial fat and industrial sugar (traces of nut and cocoa can be found for marketing purposes) is a highly addictive drug, aimed at kids and women. When you eat it, your level of serotonine will shoot up in no time (just like with Ben & Jerrys), so once you're an addict, it is very hard to quit, because the natural production of serotonine has gone down.

    It's like showing an article about an overdose-victim to a pusher and hoping he will stop - not gonna happen.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  58.  
    icon
    OldMugwump (profile), Jun 2nd, 2013 @ 9:33am

    Re: Re: Why do people always cave

    What huge cost?

    They are probably bluffing and won't really sue.

    If they do, you write a letter to the court saying "this is BS", then show up and say it again in person.

    No lawyers involved. If it's an open-and-shut case, you'll still win.

    If you lose, you can still appeal on the basis that you had a lousy lawyer.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This