Oreo or Ferrero - Who bucks brand orthodoxy?

May 23, 2013

The news that Ferrero sent a cease and desist letter to Nutella superfan, forcefully asking her shut down World Nutella Day left us scratching our heads.

It seems like Ferrero has opted for brand orthodoxy that says that brand image comes solely from the comms a brand puts out, and that the brand should have full control over that single message and repeat itself constantly.

Conversely, Oreo is one brand that bucks brand orthodoxy. It was lightning-quick in putting out its Blackout ad on Twitter during this year’s Superbowl. It has its finger on the pulse and chooses to have a voice on current social affairs. For example, when it celebrates Elvis, the Mars landings, or Bastille Day, it comes alive to the world around it.

Figure 1. Oreo “Daily Twist” campaign. (Images: Huffington Post)

Fluidity in today’s branding landscape

It’s understandable that a brand would want simplicity and standardisation in its comms. After all, historically there is a raft of brands that have thrived on standardisation (e.g. Australia Post).

However, it’s a brave new world for brands today. Our society is fluid and diverse, and brands have to speak across a multitude of technology platforms to engage their audiences. Total control and consistency in communications is almost an unachievable ideal. 

In today’s landscape, where seemingly benign actions on social networking sites can have a huge impact on brand equity (read more on how Theory of Chaos has applications for brands), a brand would be rapt to be one that its loyalists are so emotionally attached to. Grant McCracken, writing for the Harvard Business Review, called this a ‘breathing brand – one that breathes culture in, and culture out; one that shows signs of life by interacting on a personal and emotional level with consumers.

In short, Roche probably didn’t do itself any favours by shushing its (super) fanbase, telling them to keep their love for Nutella to themselves.


Edit: Roche has stopped legal action in response to social media outrage, explaining in a release that the initial legal letter was “a routine brand defense procedure that was activated as a result of some misuse of the Nutella brand on the fan page.”