Student’s mix of art, Nutella draws tasty win

Chrissy Eckman, a 2013 Unionville High graduate and Nutella's newly-anointed chief ambassador, shares enthusiasm and Nutella samples in New York.

A 2013 Unionville High graduate is savoring a sweet success: She was tapped recently to serve as the world’s Chief Nutella Ambassador, a coveted position that involves hosting World Nutella Day on Feb. 5.

Chrissy Eckman takes advantage of the Thanksgiving holiday to promote Nutella in November.

Chrissy Eckman takes advantage of  Thanksgiving  to promote Nutella during her campaign to drum up votes in November. Photos courtesy of Chrissy Eckman

“It’s a dream come true that I never knew I had!” said Chrissy Eckman – at least not until a friend messaged her in the fall about the competition.

Nutella, a rich spread boasting hazelnuts and cocoa created in 1964, was soliciting applications for its ambassador, a position created by Sara Rosso, an American blogger living in Italy. Rosso founded World Nutella Day in 2007, affording her and other Nutella diehards a day to spread their passion for Nutella on social media through recipes, photos, and messages.

In 2015, Rosso transferred the reins to Ferrero, the Italian company that makes Nutella, which then had a daunting task: finding someone with Rosso’s fervor to uphold the global tradition.

Chrissy Eckman and her Nutella campaign manager, Daniel Pebbly, enjoy a night in Manhattan – part of Eckman's winnings.

Chrissy Eckman and her Nutella campaign manager, Daniel Pebly, enjoy a night in Manhattan – part of Eckman's winnings.

Eckman, a 21-year-old junior majoring in motion media design at Savannah College of Art and Design, was already hooked on the hazelnut confection. In fact, she had been animating Nutella jars in some of her courses. So there was nothing nutty about her quest to win the contest, an effort that tastefully merged her appetites for education and culinary treats.

Her video application landed her among five finalists, and then she began the demanding task of drumming up votes through a social media campaign. Her reminders to get people to cast ballots during November capitalized on her classwork with GIFs, animated image files. They featured lively Nutella jars in multiple configurations, ranging from a Thanksgiving turkey to a toothpaste tube.

In the animated world of Chrissy Eckman, Nutella jars love to celebrate.

In the animated, Nutella-crazed world of Chrissy Eckman, even the jars love to celebrate.

The latter drew inspiration from her family. She said six relatives named Eckman, including her father, Randy, and brother, Philip, practice dentistry in the area. And for those who might consider Eckman’s pursuit of Nutella dominance inconsistent with pearly whites, she would respectfully disagree.

“You just have to make sure you brush your teeth regularly,” she said decisively.

She added that her father served as one of her biggest boosters during the campaign. And even though he’s not typically a fan of sweets, he tasted Nutella for the first time and liked it, especially paired with apple slices.

The Chief Nutella Ambassador receives a personalized knife to spread Nutella joy.

The Chief Nutella Ambassador receives a personalized knife to spread Nutella joy.

Eckman said the voting totals weren’t publicized because the tally only contributed to 20 percent of the final score. After she was named Chief Nutella Ambassador, she learned she had come out on top in voting. Other criteria included effective, creative marketing materials and the ability to promote the product enthusiastically. Eckman’s stint as a tour guide at her school might have given her an edge in the latter category.

Another advantage? Motion media is a superb marketing tool, Eckman said. And since she was able to use her creations in her courses, she got double-duty from them. “My entire quarter of school was basically Nutella,” she said.

Chrissy Eckman recommends Banana Nutella Trifle to cap off that Thanksgiving turkey.

Chrissy Eckman recommends Banana Nutella Trifle to cap off that Thanksgiving turkey.

The win, which was announced publicly earlier this week, earned Eckman and a companion an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City that she described as a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. She said Daniel Pebly, a good friend who excelled as her campaign manager, was the logical choice.

The odyssey, seven days and six nights in the Big Apple, included a mix of work and play. Eckman said promotional materials dominated the day schedule. Accompanied by a film crew, she breezed around Manhattan offering people Nutella samples or showcasing novel Nutella recipes. She said the weather was so frigid the production staff had to buy her extra winter gear.

At night, she and Pebly were treated to the likes of gourmet dining, front-row seats to see “Wicked” followed by a backstage tour, and VIP treatment at a Brooklyn Nets basketball game. Extra bling included her Nutella ambassador sash, Nutella merchandise, even a personalized, engraved knife – perfect for dispersing hazelnut decadence.

Surrounded by a film crew, Chrissy Eckman works on promotional Nutella videos in New York City.

Surrounded by a film crew, Chrissy Eckman, 21, of Kennett Square, works on promotional videos in New York City for Nutella.

In addition, she will be getting a year’s supply of Nutella – which translates to five cases, each containing a dozen 13-oz. jars. Since Eckman espouses the view that “most foods can be improved with Nutella,” consuming it won’t be a challenge.

Eckman said she valued the fantastic support she got from so many people – from friends and family to Nutella fans –and she hopes that the graphics she created during the campaign will eventually make her portfolio all the more appetizing to prospective employers.

For now, she’s enjoying the countdown to World Nutella Day. She said four videos were produced in New York, and they are scheduled for staggered release to build momentum and excitement for Feb. 5. To access the first one, click here .

Eckman doesn’t know how long her reign as the Nutella queen will last. She said there’s talk of repeating the contest next year, but she’s in no hurry to relinquish her crown. After all, the last ambassador held the post for five years.

“If they decide to keep me longer, that would be awesome,” she said.

In the meantime, anyone for Nutella empanadas?

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About Kathleen Brady Shea

Kathleen Brady Shea, a nearly lifelong area resident, has been reporting on local news for several decades, including 19 years at the Philadelphia Inquirer. She believes that journalists provide a vital watchdog service in the community, and she embraces that commitment. In addition to unearthing news, she also enjoys digging up dirt in her garden, a hobby that frequently fosters Longwood Gardens envy. Along with her husband, Pete, she lives in a historic residence near the Brandywine Battlefield, a property that is also home to a sheep, a goat, and a passel of fish.

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