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By The Drum, Editorial

December 5, 2023 | 4 min read

Barilla and LePub have won the Food and Drink category at The Drum Awards for Creativity. Here is the award-winning case study.

2022 was supposed to be a period of recovery after the pandemic crisis; instead, as the war between Russia and Ukraine escalated, it turned into the year of the biggest global energy crisis in 50 years. The crisis affected many major economies, including Europe and emerging and developing economies. In fact, on household budgets, rising gas prices have had a significant impact, generating sky-high costs for basic activities such as heating homes and cooking.

In recent years Barilla has been dedicating much effort to studying methods to help people lead more sustainable lives. That's how data appeared on a cooking method used in Italy since the 1800s until the economic boom of the 1960s. An effective and simple method that can save up to 80% of energy, but now totally forgotten.

CREATIVE IDEA Upon landing on data on this old cooking method, we called it Passive Cooking, and decided it's the best time for the world to rediscover - the most innovative old method to cook pasta. It's as simple as - bringing water to a boil and cooking pasta with the heat off, reducing gas consumption and CO2 emissions by up to 80%. Currently, there are 440 millions pasta bowls being cooked in the world every day. So helping change the way people are used to cook pasta would not be easy.

STRATEGY Barilla, the most iconic pasta brand worldwide, had to reinforce its category leadership and meaningfulness to consumers. The recipe was simple: show Barilla's future-looking spirit and its innovative attitude in pushing category boundaries. Then, the global energetic crisis hit and the “how to save energy” Google searches skyrocketed to a +600% worldwide. We saw an opportunity: connect with consumers by giving them a simple solution to save energy and help the planet just by changing the way they cook pasta every day.

This spoke perfectly to our consumer profile: households owners 25-55 constantly looking for help to improve their way of cooking and with sustainability at their heart. When pasta is one of the most loved dishes worldwide with 440M pasta bowls served every day, encouraging a small behavior can generate a great impact for the planet.

EXECUTION Passive Cooking was launched globally, showing how easy it is to cook perfect pasta al dente and save up to 80% energy. Celebrity chefs and global influencers made the method popular and challenged their followers to try it. Barilla added passive cooking timing for pasta al dente to each of their pasta types, on their website, their online recipes and packaging. A WhatsApp BOT was created for step by step guides to cook perfect pasta for any Barilla pasta type. We also created the Passive Cooker, a smart device that monitors and alerts and we gave it to restaurants. The device was released also open source so anyone could build it themselves and use it at home.

RESULTS Barilla turned a forgotten method into the talk of the town with +2000 media articles worldwide and radio, podcast and TV debates. A larger community of chefs, KOLs and celebrities joined the conversation. Even tech-savvies from GitHub and Reddit couldn’t help but talk about our open-source device and how to replicate it. The exposure was massive: over 1.6 billion PR reach across the world. If all the people use passive cooking ONCE, it would save enough energy to power the city of Rome for 7 years. We know for sure we nudged enough people to generate a tremendous online demand on how to adopt the method with a +370% increase on Google searches. And for a selected pool of partner restaurants, the device helped cutting off up to 30% of their energy bill costs.

CULTURAL CONTEXT Pasta in Italy is like a religion, and many Italians are usually not very receptive to any change in how to do it. But once this was presented as a 100% traditional method that makes so much sense today, people were actually very open to try it and promote it. Very importantly, Barilla was very careful in communicating the right cooking times and provide the right tools so the pasta is always cooked to perfection. This way, hundreds of celebrity Italian chefs adopted the method and they have the REAL power of influencing Italian households in trying the method themselves.

Creative Awards Case Studies The Drum Awards For Creativity

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