Nutella Turns to Alexa to Promote Hazelnut Spread Over Maple Syrup for Pancakes

Nutella wants people to ask Alexa for the best way to replace maple syrup with hazelnut spread. The new Nutella Creations Alexa skill is part of the Ferrero brand’s latest marketing effort to get people to think of hazelnut instead of maple for National Pancake Day, also known as Pancake or Shrove Tuesday.

Talk Hazelnut

The Nutella Creations skill includes recipes and guides for using Nutella in a variety of breakfast menus, including designs for six different kinds of dinosaur pancakes. It’s connected to the Nutella creations online recipe hub the company operates. The Alexa skill comes with four memory games to help people remember things about the spread, especially kids.

“From silver dollar to blueberry, pancakes are an iconic breakfast staple and we believe topping them with Nutella brings them to an unparalleled level of deliciousness,” said Ferrero North America vice president of marketing Todd Midura in a statement. “This Pancake Tuesday, we’re encouraging families to participate in these activations that bring to life the joy of special breakfasts and we hope Nutella plays even a small role in helping them create memories that will last for a lifetime.”

Along with the new skill, Nutella is setting up a Nutella Syrup Swap Shop pop-up on Saturday at New York’s Grand Central Terminal from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. People who drop by with a syrup bottle can exchange it for Nutella and some pancakes covered with the topping. While National Pancake Day actually took place on Tuesday, perhaps understandably, Nutella decided to set up shop on a Saturday when people might be a little more inclined to linger over pancakes while commuting.

More Voice, Fewer Samples

If Nutella and Alexa sound like a familiar arrangement, that’s because Nutella did a different promotion using both Alexa and Google Assistant last year. The company worked with Send Me a Sample, a marketing firm specializing in interactive campaigns for product trials. People could ask their voice assistants for a free sample of Nutella and get it within a couple of weeks. It’s similar to other brands Send Me a Sample has worked with, such as DKNY and Bacardi, for promoting a product via voice.

Nutella hasn’t said why it decided to shift the strategy this year, but it may be because of just how popular the voice sample campaigns can be. Send Me a Sample sometimes runs out of samples to send very rapidly. The same is true even when a brand runs the campaign in-house. Coca-Cola set up a free sample ordering system on Alexa to promote the new Coke Energy drink in tandem with a Super Bowl ad and ran out before the ad even aired. Coke’s personalized Coke bottles Alexa campaign in Australia didn’t rely on limited supplies so didn’t have the same issue. Perhaps people complained about not being able to get the samples last year and Nutella decided to skip the potential blowback with a promotion that can’t run out. Regardless, the company clearly saw enough value in using a voice skill for marketing to come up with something new this year, a trend that will likely see plenty of other brands joining in, although probably without the dinosaur pancakes.


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