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Barilla advertising & marketing assignments

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Selected Barilla advertising

Barilla is the world's #1 pasta manufacturer. The main international brand is supported by local brands including Voiello in Italy, Misko in Greece, Filiz in Turkey and most recently Catelli in Canada, acquired in 2021. The group is also Italy's biggest baked foods company with a wide range of cakes, pastries, biscuits and crackers under brands including Mulino Bianco, Pavesi, Gran Cereale and Pan di Stelle. Elsewhere, it owns Wasa, which is by far the biggest crispbread brand in Scandinavia, and France's top-selling packaged bread Harrys. By concentrating its attention on just these two main sectors, Barilla has developed a commanding global presence. It dominates Italy's pasta sector with more than one third local share, and has seized the lead in several international markets including Germany, Australia and especially the US, where it overtook local competitors through aggressive and effective marketing (not least a small chain of branded restaurants) to achieve almost 33% local share by 2017. The group has also dabbled in other sectors, but with less success. In 2002, it acquired German retail bakery giant Kamps, but later sold that business at a loss. Several other Italian brands - including Le Tre Marie cakes and Sanson ice cream - were also divested in the 2000s. However, the group has also made a few smaller acquisitions; for example UK-based online retailer Pasta Evangelists in 2021. Perhaps surprisingly in an industry dominated by corporate multinationals, Barilla remains a family business, owned and run by the four great-grandchildren of founder Pietro Barilla, who opened his bakery and pasta shop outside Parma in 1877. Almost a century later in 1971, the family sold the business to US conglomerate WR Grace & Co. Alarmed by its rapid subsequent decline, grandson Pietro Barilla bought it back again eight years later. His son Guido Maria Barilla is now chairman, supported on the board by his two brothers Paolo and Luca. Non-family member Claudio Colzani is CEO. Revenues for 2020 were €3.9bn. Pasta, sauces and ready meals accounted for 55% of sales, and baked goods for the remainder. Italy still contributes 43% of sales and the US 20%.

Capsule checked 6th December 2021

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Recent stories from Adbrands Update:

Adbrands Daily Update 29th Sep 2021: Unilever's global dominance in ice cream will get another boost from a new strategic partnership with Barilla to sell ice cream and snacks in Italy. Details have not been disclosed, but will probably extend brands such as Barilla's Gocciole biscuits into the ice cream sector. It could also lead to the launch by Barilla of Magnum or Cornetto branded snacks. Unilever already has a similar partnership with Barilla's confectionery rival Ferrero. Its local ice cream business in Italy trades under the Algida name, but shares Unilever's global "Heartbrand" branding.

Adbrands Daily Update 4th Aug 2020: "The Rooftop Match". This is so adorable. During lockdown, two Italian girls became an internet sensation when they posted a clip on social media of themselves playing tennis from one rooftop to another on opposite sides of their street in the Italian village of Finale Ligure. Barilla's agency We Are Social seized the opportunity to ask brand ambassador Roger Federer to surprise the girls with another impromptu rooftop match. The results are an absolute delight. We've had a go at Federer in the past for his wooden acting in ads, but there's no acting required here, and his personal charm and affability is clear to see. The girls too are both completely natural on-camera. Celebrity surprise stunts like this are common currency these days, but this, by virtue of its unusual setting and easy charm, is truly in a class of its own.

Adbrands Weekly Update 11th Jan 2018: Ads of the Week "Masters of Pasta". You'd think Roger Federer would have developed some acting skills after so many years of product endorsement commercials. But no, that shy demeanour and goofy half-smile is still fixed in place for this otherwise entertaining extended spot for Barilla pasta from 72andSunny Amsterdam. Michelin-starred chef Davide Oldani, on the other hand, delivers a masterful performance (though he would almost certainly struggle to win a point against RF on the court). 

Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Oct 2013: Barilla Group, the world's biggest pasta maker, generated a storm of controversy over allegedly homophobic comments by its chairman Guido Barilla. During a radio interview about stereotypical images of women in his advertising, Barilla was asked if he would consider using a gay family to advertise his company's products. "For us the concept of the sacred family remains one of the basic values of the company," he answered. "I wouldn't do an ad with a homosexual family - not because I disrespect gays - they have their right to do whatever they want without disturbing others - but because I don't think like them and I think that the family we try to address is anyway a classic family where the woman has a fundamental role." Asked what he thought gay people might think of that stance, he added "Well, if they like our pasta and our message they will eat it; if they don't like it and they don't like what we say they will eat another pasta." The comments caused an outcry among gay Italians, who called for a boycott of the company's products. Guido Barilla subsequently issued written and video responses to the protest in which he apologised for causing offence (though not for his specific comments) and emphasised his respect for gay people, stating that he had never discriminated against any individual, gay or otherwise. He also pledged to meet with representatives of gay groups to discuss the evolution of family values.

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