Update, 2:31 p.m.: Updated to reflect an agreement reached by Ferrero and the organizer of World Nutella Day.
It seems some companies don’t enjoy free publicity. Due to legal protests from Ferrero, which owns the Nutella brand, the organizer of World Nutella Day has said she is canceling the unofficial holiday, as well as the event website and Facebook (FB) and Twitter accounts dedicated to celebrating the creamy, chocolatey, hazelnut spread.
American blogger Sara Rosso says she started the annual day of appreciation in February 2007 for fans to “celebrate Italy’s edible treasure with online and offline tributes” and to share recipes. It caught on—the Facebook page for World Nutella Day now has nearly 40,000 likes.
The demise of the Nutella appreciation effort comes, Rosso says, after lawyers for Ferrero sent her a cease-and-desist letter last month. (She declined to provide Bloomberg Businessweek with a copy of the letter.) “They asked me to take down the site because they consider it to be an unauthorized use of their intellectual property and trademarks—the Nutella logo and brand,” Rosso wrote in an e-mail. She says she will take down her website on May 25. “I’ve had positive interactions with the company and its consultants in the past so I’m trying to stay positive about a resolution.”
Nutella Day fans appear disappointed. “Nutella … more nuts in company management than in every jar,” one person wrote on the holiday’s Facebook page. “What the hell? You’ve done so much to promote them? Why would they want you to stop? They should be paying you!” wrote another.
Ferrero’s U.S. office did not reply to an interview request. Putting the kibosh on fans’ enthusiasm may seem unusual, especially considering that other brands pay to market their own “holidays.” In celebration of National Pancake Day, IHOP (DIN) customers get free pancakes in exchange for a donation to Children’s Miracle Network Hospitals and other charities.
Still, Ferrero would not be the only group to be protective of its brands. Last year, the U.S. Olympic Committee sent a cease-and-desist letter to the online knitting group Ravelry about its marathon knit-off called the Ravelympics.
Nutelladay.com, Rosso’s soon-to-vanish website, took precautions against offending Ferrero, which also makes Tic Tac and Kinder candies. In a press release for the last Nutella holiday, held on Feb. 5, the fan website noted: “Ferrero S.p.A. is not officially involved with World Nutella Day, nor are the organizers compensated by Ferrero in any way for organizing it; World Nutella Day is truly a labor of love for the tasty treat.”
Update: Nutelladay.com will live on. In a statement sent to Bloomberg Businessweek at 2:31 p.m. East Coast time on May 21, Ferrero announced that it will stop action against 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,” the company stated. Nutelladay.com will remain online, Rosso tells Businessweek.com.