The Nutella Curse; How a Chocolate Spread Can Ruin Your Career

GuidoAnalyst IOctober 31, 2008

Trouble and turmoil for the German nation team. Captain Michael Ballack has fallen out with Joachim Löw. By the looks of things, Kevin Kuranyi is gone for good, and rumours of Torsten Frings packing his things are also growing. Who will be next?

Experts and fortune-tellers alike are trying to predict, which player will be next on the hit list. One pundit came up with an extra-ordinary explanation, dubbed the “Nutella Fluch,” or the “Nutella Curse.” Tagesspiegel, a renowned German paper, even called the chocolate-hazelnut cream spread “The Dark Power Of German Football.”

So what makes the creamy Nutella spread so dangerously to warrant such an apocalyptic nick-name? Apparently, starring in a Nutella TV advertisement is not the best way to guarantee an extended stay in the national team.

Nutella started running TV adds with German internationals in 2004. All the internationals selected were young players, the up and coming stars of German football, dubbed the “Nutella-Jungs” or the “Nutella Boys.”

Kevin Kuranyi, Benjamin Lauth, Andreas Hinkel, and Arne Friedrich were selected to be the faces of the advertisement campaign. The general idea was that these players would be in the national side for many years to come, ensuring a lot of exposure in the media.

This all turned out quite differently then Nutella and the players involved had hoped. Lauth was one of the first victims of the curse. He moved from the national team to long bus trips in the second division with 1860 München. As a one-time candidate for the national ski team, maybe he's wishing he made a different choice?

Hinkel was the next to go, as his career has been ravaged by injuries and loss of form. Even though Klinsmann called him up again in 2008, this proved to be a one-time affair. Hinkel has not been re-called to the squad since.

Kuranyi recently retired from international football, after falling out with Bundes-Coach Low. Out of the original four Nutella Boys, only Arne Friedrich remains active for “Die Mannschaft.”

In the run-up to the 2006 World Cup, Nutella decided to revive its campaign with a few new faces. Tim Borowski and Marcell Janssen were added to the line-up to make up for Hinkel and Lauth being dropped from the team. Unfortunately for Nutella and the two new faces, the curse struck again.

Borowksi, one-time great hope of the national team and successor to captain Michael Ballack, transferred from Werder Bremen to Bayern, lost his spot in the team and was subsequently dropped from the national side.

Jansen did not fare much better. Without much of a chance of taking the field at Bayern, Marcell left for Hamburg and earned a spot on the national team but injured his thigh in a training session before the team's game against Russia and is likely out for at least another four weeks.

Out of the six players selected by Nutella, only Arne Friedrich is still in the national side. Granted, Marcell Jansen would be in the squad had it not been for his injuries, but his place in the national side is now under threat from Serdar Tasci.

For its part, Nutella told German media it would continue broadcasting its current set of ads with Kuranyi and other under/non-performing national team players. Kuranyi's caricature still features prominently on Nutella’s website.

At least if Germany's once-legends-to-be end up on riding the bench (or worse) for the long haul, they'll be able to find consolation in a delicious chocolate spread.


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