When Facebook released a list of its most popular pages last month, the first two—President Barack Obama and Coca-Cola—were fairly predictable. But No. 3? What was Nutella doing up there?
Though many of those 3 million or so fans were no doubt based in Europe, the Italian hazelnut/chocolate spread has achieved an enviable notoriety in the U.S. as well, branding experts say. "It has all the dimensions of a cult brand," said Allen Adamson, managing director of the New York office of Landor Associates, who said that the brand's relatively low profile gives consumers social currency. "Part of what drives it is this idea of 'I've found something really cool. I want to get my friends inside something that they won't see in a two-page spread in People magazine.'"
Nevertheless, Douglas Atkin, author of The Culting of Brands, isn't sure that Nutella fits the description of a cult brand. Atkin says that one thing that distinguishes such brands is the ability of fans to talk about things beside the product. But judging by Nutella's Facebook discussions, fans seem to want to talk about little else than Nutella. "Nutella or sex?" is the title of one discussion. "Nutella and pizza" reads another. more