March 11, 2003

Students Enter Nutella Competition

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Four Cornell students are participating in the ultimate project: getting people to eat Nutella.

Instead of the oft-present volunteers handing out quarter cards on Ho Plaza, this team from Cornell’s chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) gave out free samples of the chocolate-hazelnut spread to eager students on Friday. The tasting table was part of the team’s efforts in the Bateman Competition, a nationwide contest in which students implement a public relations campaign for a chosen product. This year the product was Ferrero USA, Inc.’s Nutella.

The four team members, Julia Markish ’03, Katrina Shum ’06, Anastasia Uglova ’05 and Sun senior writer Kate Cooper ’04 have been working for the last several months on their Nutella campaign. Thus far, they have produced handouts and posters as well as a Valentine’s Day special where students bought carnations in order to have a chance to win a jar of the spread. The team explained that they are also planning on having a photo advertisement campaign this week.

According to Shum, one of the final goals of the campaign is to get Nutella into the dining halls. Discussions about this goal are currently underway with Cornell Dining.

To promote awareness of the product, the team’s table on Ho Plaza featured facts about the hazelnut spread along with snack-sized samples of bread, bananas and pretzels all smeared with Nutella. According to one of the team members, “It’s a little like peanut butter, but a lot better.”

Jen Parker ’04 confirmed the remark. “It’s delightful,” she said.

Markish expressed the team’s enjoyment of the product in saying, “We love Nutella. In fact, every time we have a meeting, we have to have a few samples.”

Not only is Nutella as tasty as peanut butter, the team members say, but it is also less fattening.

In response to the team’s set-up, and despite the fact that the freezing temperatures made the bread a little chewy, students like Brook Katzen grad said, “How could anyone walk by here without stopping to try this?”

The team will have to report their campaign experience to the competition headquarters on March 15 in the form of a major write-up.

Uglova, the co-director of Cornell’s PRSSA branch, spoke of her own feelings on the campaign.

“Being in the competition is pretty prestigious. It’s a really good experience,” she said.

In addition to this small team’s efforts, the 60 members of Cornell’s PRSSA are involved in other public relations activities in the Ithaca community. They have created a student-run firm called Ivy PRomotions that takes on short-term projects for various organizations. Uglova said that some of their current clients include sororities on campus, but that PRomotions is also looking to get more student organizations and local businesses as clients.

The function of PRSSA is to “connect students of public relations and communications with the professional public relations industry,” Uglova said.

In terms of the Bateman Competition, winners will be announced on April 15. The first-place team receives $2,500 and a trophy.

Archived article by Liz Goulding