Social media defaces YourNutella
Nutella fans can now name their own personalised jars. What could possibly go wrong?
The story is always the same - well-known brand launches an earnest promotion, the internet makes a mockery of it and the whole thing ends in disaster.
Perhaps "disaster" would be too strong a word in the case of Nutella, whose marketing boffins have enabled enthusiasts to create their own personalised jar labels.
If the expectation was that Nutella-lovers would respond in earnest, early indications were promising. The promotion asked customers to submit their details, upload a receipt, and receive in return a customised, real-life jar of the good stuff.
The campaign started overseas earlier in the year and was launched in Australia this week. It is understood that parent company Ferrero was sufficiently informed about the nation's famous larrikin sense of humour.
Aussie enthusiasts duly took smiling selfies as they clutched their bottles of Nutella, names proudly adorning the tumbler of sweet brown goo, and shared them using the hashtag #mynutella.
But it is a rule universally acknowledged that, given the power to make their own content, people's minds will dive into the gutter almost immediately.
And so it was that the wisecracks of the internet soon caught on, and the real fun began. In a function that now appears to be disabled, users could enter all sorts of names and get an instant preview.
That led to the appearance of Nutella jars labelled "diabetes", "poop" and "iSnack2.0" - the latter a reference to Vegemite's disastrous product launch of 2009.
It was a predictable outcome, says InsideOut Public Relations director Nicole Reaney. She told news website SmartCompany that the advertising agency responsible for the campaign "would have pre-empted this" response.
"When you hand the reins over to the public, you expose yourself to potential backlash. And sometimes that's a good thing," Ms Reaney said.
"In this case however I'd say it's a PR fail. Nutella is a brand that's marketed to families - [in] this particular campaign it's not families being engaged, it's probably people in teens and 20s having a bit of fun."
The company behind Nutella, Ferrero Australia, noted the internet parodies with a hint of disappointment.
"Although some people have chosen to use the campaign as an opportunity to create and post less then appropriate images online, most consumers have embraced it in the manner it was intended," the company said in a statement.
There has been no shortage of hiccups as companies explore the possibilities of interacting with their market over social media.
At the centenary of Gallipoli earlier this year, Woolworths felt the brunt of a serious backlash to a social media campaign in which it asked customers to upload photos to a "profile picture generator". The generator then stamped the photo with the supermarket's logo and tagline: "Lest We Forget Anzac 1915-2015 ... Fresh in our memories".
For its part, Nutella won't be rewarding the whims of the Twitter troublemakers with a jar of hazelnut goodness. 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".