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Barilla (photo from Wikipedia)

Barilla is the most known brand in Italy and the 49th most recognized label in the world, an indicator that the company has moved a long way from its origins of local, family run business.  Today, Barilla is synonym of a food empire that includes all kind of products. Most of its fame, however, comes from its great pasta and pasta sauces. Barilla, although almost 100 years old at the time, really only took off in the 1980's with a very strong advertising campaign, which captivated the attention and the heart of the Italians. Each spot was addressed especially to families and truly well done, giving a sense of and a desire for sharing a meal together. The Barilla commercials became a sort of film record of Italian society, and today many people look back at those early commercials with some sort of nostalgia. No advertising campaign has ever been as successful.


After consolidating their leadership on the Italian market, Barilla started to export its products abroad. Slowly, but surely its iconic blue boxes with red and write writing became popular all over the world. It is in the United States that Barilla found its goldmine, as Americans and American grocery chains picked up its products with enthusiasm. The rest is history - a great history made possible by the wonderful organization and industrial planning implemented by the Barilla family, and by a diligent work of business and networking, that helped pushing products into American homes. Barilla is still a family operated enterprise, and like most of Italian companies, it represents a true jewel of Italian economy, offering a perfect example of a well managed and well structured company: not too big, with a strong cash flow and an even stronger product recognition, based on an outstanding quality that has no competition.

Spot Barilla 1980s directed by Federico Fellini ( the background music too reminds of Fellini)

Barilla has always fully embraced this concept and implanted it in its industrial planning, allowing a home feel that is present in every aspect of the organization. This, in fact, is the inspiration for strategies that have allowed Barilla to play a very strong role in the food industry, despite having much less money and financial capital access than companies like Nestle or Kraft. Barilla opposes to these colossi of the food industry the typical Italian model of a smaller business, with a strong core based on one single type of product, which is enriched by the development of other sub-brands. It worked with Ferrero and Nutella, it worked with Parmalat and milk (still does, at least at the merely industry-economical level,  as the Parmalat fiasco invested most grossly sectors alien to this area of the company), and it definitely works with Barilla and its pasta. The model is strong and it's certainly one thing Italian economy can be proud of: good products that makes money, money that is invested in the company again, to increase both profits and quality.

Spot Barilla 1999

Barilla is truly the ultimate Italian business, where every cent is produced, manufactured, and fully capitalized, and where a strong distribution network supports only quality products. There is certainly no space for low quality products in this picture: imports  from unregulated markets such as China, for example, but ironically such as Italy itself, have no hope to survive the battle against business and quality giants like Barilla. In Italy, for instance,  many unknown small companies try to imitate well known brands, at times creating confusion on  international markets,  where most buyers are not fully familiar with genuine Italian products or food habits, and often end up buying whatever comes with a " made in Italy" label.  Barilla has fought this issue for years  and the first results are showing in Europe, where the EU has implemented  special laws to regulate and protect certain food products. The competition continues to be strong on this matter, though, as countries like Germany push to abolish some basic things, for example the fact that chocolate to be such must contain cocoa. While these seem to be self-evident, it is not always so for politicians, often working for the lobbyists.

United States and Italy achieved an interesting agreement to safeguard and protect their own products- albeit different

types of products- from imitation, within their own borders: the US have agreed to protect the origin and the name "parmesan", by labeling so only real parmesan DOC, coming from Italy. Il Bel Paese, on the other hand, has promised to maintain a clean and clear eye on american software, such as Windows or Office and prevent piracy.

Overall, Barilla continues to be one of the most recognized and well-liked Italian food brands throughout much of the world. As a model for international marketing, and for its own sake as a supplier of delicious food, Barilla will continue to represent Italy, Italian food, and Italian marketing innovation for some time to come.

What do you think ?