Brands Out Of Control

A Foodie Friday that begins a long weekend here in the US. Today, however, we’re doing Foodie Friday Fails, and actually they’re kind of fun because of their inherent stupidity. Our fist bit of joy comes to us courtesy of the folks at Nutella.

Deutsch: Ein Glas Nutella-Nussnougatcreme

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A big fan of the hazelnut and chocolate concoction decided to celebrate the product by creating a “World Nutella Day” celebration and used social media and the web to promote it. Want to guess what happened next?

Sarah Rosso, the principal organizer of World Nutella Day, says she received a letter from Ferrero demanding that she stop using the Nutella name and logo. Since it’s a little hard to celebrate Nutella without using the word “Nutella,” that essentially spells death for any sort of World Day. Rosso, who described the letter as “a bit of a surprise and a disappointment,” will have to shut down her Facebook page, Twitter, and website — or, I guess, make them into blind items. “World Day to Celebrate An Unnamed Hazelnut Spread” doesn’t have as much of a ring, but at least it’s not actionable.

That’s right:  in a time when hundreds of brands are spending millions of dollars to create social virality, the geniuses at Ferrero shut down something that does nothing but celebrate their product in a positive way.  They’ve since recanted and are now supporting the effort, blaming their lawyers who reacted reflexively to use of a trademark.  Right.  In an event, the damage has been done but the lesson is worth repeating.  We no longer “own” our brands.  Our customers do and we need to support nearly everything they do unless it’s hurtful or illegal.

Then there are the folks at  TGI Fridays in the great state of New Jersey.  13 of their outlets were caught filling premium liquor bottles with cheap booze and charging top shelf prices for it.   Obviously, the brand takes a hit as a bar, but it also has to make customers wonder what’s going on in the kitchen if the bar is so out of control.  One bad apple and you can write it off to a rogue bar manager.   13 outlets and clearly no one is minding the store (or bar) by watching inventory and sales reports.  Maybe they’re not watching what’s being served or how it’s being cooked.

While the Nutella case shows someone paying too much attention, Friday’s shows the opposite   Managing is often a balancing act and here we have two food brands that have fallen off the wire.   Thoughts?

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