• Bill Petrie

The Nutella Dilemma

The client will ultimately decide if you deliver on your brand promise.

I originally complained about Nutella and the false flavor promise a few years ago. However, the lessons are just as true today as they were in 2017. I hope you enjoy this updated version.


I’m going to write something that will shock some and anger others: I can’t stand Nutella. On many occasions, I’ve tried it using different delivery vehicles, and I don’t care for it. It’s marketed as a “sweetened hazelnut cocoa spread” and, from my perspective, fails to deliver on every promise: it’s not terribly sweet, the hazelnut flavor is flat, and the cocoa is just a rumor.

It certainly looks like chocolate and smells like hazelnut, but the taste is just off – way off. Even as I write this the thought of eating that gooey yet flavorless spread makes me wince.

This is neither a product review nor an indictment of my taste buds (although I know there will be many who will vehemently disagree with my thoughts on Nutella). It’s a tongue-in-cheek metaphor for brands that don’t deliver on their marketing promises and what I call, “The Nutella Dilemma.”

It’s very simple: If you market yourself as responsive, find out from your clients what responsive means to them, and deliver on the promise. The same could be said for customer service, cost-effectiveness, or even creativity.

The real key is understanding is that the client is the one who decides if you deliver on your brand promise, not you. So while it would seem I’m in the minority when it comes to Nutella, the fact remains that the product does not deliver what it promises to me.

Just because you think you are responsive (or creative, have outstanding customer service, are cost-effective, etc.), don’t automatically assume your audience is in agreement. For example, what is responsive to one client may be unresponsive to another, so it’s important to clarify as early in the sales relationship as possible.

I certainly don’t expect the Ferraro company to ask me what cocoa should taste like, but they are doing fine without me as a customer. However, I’m not sure most promotional products suppliers or distributors have that sort of cushion when it comes to client retention - there are far too seemingly identical options.


When a brand fails to deliver on a brand promise, clients will find one that does.

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