French shoppers have been “rioting” over Nutella. This should fall into the realms of “you couldn’t make it up”.

Jars of Nutella lined up in a shop Normally such a tale turns out to be about much more than the headline. However in this case it really does seem to be all about a huge price cut for every French person’s favourite chocolate and hazelnut spread.

Nutella’s manufacturer, Ferrero SpA (yes, of “Monsieur, with these Ferrero Rocher you are spoiling us…” fame), has naturally distanced itself from the furore. It did not cut the price, supermarket chain Intermarche did.

Quietly though I’m sure they are rubbing their hands with glee at Ferrero HQ. Their iconic brand is so popular that people are willing to scrap over it.

Root cause

From a different perspective, the French Government should perhaps be concerned that some of its people are so concerned about the cost of living that a cut price jar of chocolate spread becomes a reason to get violent…

You would not go looking for this kind of publicity, as a brand manager. To have your product identified as such a must-have line is invaluable though. This news will spread around the world. The images will make it onto news bulletins seen by billions of people.

Lapsed Nutella customers will be reminded that it might be time to pick up another jar. Non-customers might well wish to find out what all the fuss is about. I’d be willing to be that next month’s sales figures will show a spike for Ferrero in markets other than France.

It is very rare that there is such a thing as bad publicity. There is profile – what matters is how you handle it.

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