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Label campaigns gone awry: Nutella in Australia

On this blog, we often talk about label strategies that are successful for brands that launch them. However, now and then it’s important to take a look at ideas that go amiss. Recently, the rollout of a selfie-themed label for Nutella products created a storm of controversy and misuse. In Australia, the chocolate-hazelnut spread manufacturer initiated a campaign that would allow customers to create custom labels of the delicacy. 

Users could select their own name or other words and phrases to fit on the classic Nutella jar, appearing in the easily-recognizable Nutella font. The breadth of this assignment created an avenue for critics of the brand to write words like “Epipen” to denote the allergenic quality of hazelnuts, “Obesity” to indicate that the food may be unhealthy, among others. Needless to say, these are unflattering takes on the brand’s central product which sprung from an innocent, well-intentioned label promotion. 

“For its part, Nutella won’t be rewarding the whims of the Twitter troublemakers with a jar of hazelnut goodness,” writes Michael Koziol of the Sydney Morning Herald. “One of the conditions of the promotion warns users that all personalised labels are ‘subject to approval by the Promoter.’ Names cannot be ‘obscene, offensive, inappropriate or unsuitable for minors,’ it declares, nor ‘offensive, rude, defamatory or otherwise inappropriate.'” 

While this strategy protects Nutella from actually manufacturing the adversarial labels, the prominence of this initiative on social media has created a wealth of shareable content using iconic brand signatures to disparage the product. Before undertaking a broad promotional campaign, remember to consider how your great idea could be misused by those who might wish harm on your brand. The best protection against promotions gone awry is often knowing how to anticipate problems before they present themselves. 

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