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How Nutella's social media engagement strategy went wrong

Uwear
|Sep 22|magazine11 min read

Nutella’s personalised branding marketing strategy appears to have taken a turn for the worst, as companies continue to hit obstacles when exploring ways to interact with their market on social media.

Several social media users have hijacked the popular hazelnut spread’s “Make Me Yours” campaign, which began overseas earlier this year before hitting Australia just last week. Nutella set up a website for consumers to order their own personalized label of the product with an associated hashtag #mynutella.

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Feedback was positive early on, as customers were asked to submit their idea for a label, upload a receipt and receive their own customised jar of Nutella.

The only problem is, most people on social media platforms view themselves as aspiring comedians when given the opportunity. Some of the recent Nutella memes include the label with the words “diabetes” “allergen” and “oops.”

One public relations expert said she could see this coming, as the company never properly targeted its pitch and ventured away from its traditional audience.

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“When you hand the reins over to the public, you expose yourself to potential backlash,” said InsideOut public relations director Nicole Reaney. “Sometimes that is a good thing. In this case however I’d say it’s a PR fail.

“Nutella is a brand that is marketed to families. In this particular campaign, it’s not families being engaged. It’s probably people in their teens and 20s having a bit of fun.”

The company that produces Nutella, Ferrero Australia, expressed its disappointment in the public’s reaction.

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“Although some people have chosen to use the campaign as an opportunity to create and post less than appropriate images online, most consumers have embraced it in the manner it was intended,” said Ferrero.

Earlier this year, supermarket giant Woolworths hit a similar snag when it began a social media Anzac Day marketing campaign that was labeled by some as “the social media fail of the year.” Woolworths’ campaign with its company logo and phrase “Fresh In Our Memories” over a photos of fallen soliders drew strong criticism.

Nutella won’t reward those who have submitted social media pranks, as one of the conditions of the campaign was that all personalized labels are “subject to approval by the promoter.” It goes on to say submissions can’t be offensive, inappropriate, obscene or defamatory.

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In the future, Reaney believes SME marketers need to be careful when using personalised branding, even though it seems like a good idea on the surface.

“The key lessons are to align your campaign to your target market and test it with a few people in that market to see if there is any chance of it backfiring,” said Reaney. “The other is always anticipate and pre-empt any negatives that can go wrong with a campaign and what steps you would have in place to resolve it.”

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