With 17.5 million views in 4 countries,1 433,000 interactions generated and a global reach of 73 million,2 the activation of Barilla for the last Carbonara Day certainly did not go unnoticed.
The short film “Carebonara — The Origins of Carbonara” tells the exciting story of how, according to legend, one of the most loved pasta dishes in the world was born. As well as inviting the watcher to take care of others, even simply with a plate of pasta.
The nearly 10-minute short film is set during World War II. It tells the story of how a young American soldier and an Italian cook, communicating only with gestures and the army’s “K Rations” available, give life to the legendary recipe of carbonara.
The campaign was promoted on YouTube for one week in April 2021 in Italy, France, Austria, and the U.K.. The 30-second Trueview-In-Stream format was chosen, promoted to audiences focused on food, and lovers of Italian cuisine.
To understand how such a successful video ad came about, we asked Alessio Gianni, content and brand PR Global VP at Barilla Group, to tell us about the genesis of the campaign.
Small crises can generate great opportunities
What insight did this campaign come from?
Gianni: To tell you about the origin of this video we have to take a step back to 2006. On 6 April of that year a French blog published a video of a carbonara made with raw yolk, cream, and Barilla pasta. A small reputation crisis — which internally we still call “carbonara-gate” — hit us, giving us the inspiration for “Carbonara Day.”
Our listening room identified an opportunity: carbonara is a much-discussed, loved, and commented on recipe. We decided to kick off the tradition by celebrating it every year.
This year we worked on the “carebonara” pun, associated with social activation. We wanted to tell a story linked to pasta with a cinematic language. The goal was to shoot a 3-minute video for digital. Instead it became colossal.
Rules are made to be broken
The result was a 10-minute short where the brand appears only after six minutes. How did this come about?
Gianni: We had done a great pre-production job and shot for three days in Rome, in two different locations with 100 extras.
When we saw the whole video we realised that the project had taken on a different scale and we just couldn’t cut without damaging the end result. We put the story first. Many told us we were crazy, but we decided to go ahead with courage.
To monitor the impact on the brand, we launched a Search Lift 2.0 — a study that allowed us to measure the likelihood that consumers will search thinking about the brands of the Barilla Group. We found that searches for the keyword “Barilla” carried out on Google and YouTube by users exposed to the campaign were up to 47 times higher than those made by users who were not exposed.3
The medium can be as important as the message
How did you choose the media on which to distribute the content?
Gianni: Gianni: Most companies design a TV ad and also use it for digital. Commercials made for TV are rarely hero content - content that people actively want to watch and that creates news. We wanted to create a great event capable of generating enormous audience growth. A video that people would share on social media. That would generate newspaper headlines. I believe we have succeeded.
The film was therefore conceived from the beginning with YouTube in mind. It was the only platform capable of hosting this type of content and engaging such a large and qualitative audience. Also, because PR was an integral part of the strategy, YouTube was a perfect landing page for business amplification.
Go beyond vanity metrics to measure content success
How did you measure the success of the campaign?
Gianni: The video, published in Italy, the U.K., Austria, and France, reached a total of 17.5 million views. It is one of the brand’s most successful campaigns.
While views are undoubtedly a metric to keep an eye on, I believe that what really matters are the positive qualitative feedback on many parameters.
In particular, retention, where we observed very high values comparable to our best productions with a shorter duration. From this perspective, the project has exceeded all expectations.
In particular, retention, on which we observed very high values, also comparable to our best productions with a shorter duration. From this point of view, the project has exceeded all expectations.
The view rate of the Trueview video was 62% and 13% of the users watched the entire video until the end.
What surprised us the most was seeing the retention graph of a 10 minute video similar to that of a 1 minute video. And then the proactive behaviour of users who have decided to search for the video on the brand's channel to voluntarily leave a comment on the video.