Our client, Barilla, Inc., is the world’s largest pasta and sauce company. It has thousands of employees and sells its products in over 100 countries. However, few people know that Barilla started in Italy in 1877 as a small bread and pasta shop, and today, 146 years later, they are still a private, family-owned enterprise.

In 2019 Barilla North America launched a brand new line of sauces in the United States called Vero Gusto. What sets this line apart is that each sauce has one ingredient as its main feature: a “hero ingredient.” All hero ingredients have their origin in specific regions of Italy where they are known for their quality and flavor (for example, Genovese basil comes from Genoa, where the rich soil in which it grows gives it a unique flavor and aroma). Further, all the sauces are made in Italy, each with its hero ingredient, following a traditional Italian method.

Barilla cares deeply about producing high-quality products. And, as a family company, it also deeply cares about its people. From the employees to everyone who consumes, promotes, or comes into contact with its brand.

So, as the launching of Vero Gusto was approaching, Barilla had two critical objectives in mind:

  1. To reinforce (for their U.S. employees) the company’s origin story and its uniqueness in the marketplace, and
  2. To build an extraordinary, different, and memorable launch event for influencers and media in the heart of Manhattan.

Barilla hired us because of our “no box” approach: we don’t think outside the box because there is no box to begin with. As a result, we were able to put a fresh perspective on this project by creating a tailored and innovative solution that fully achieved their goals and surpassed everyone’s expectations. We made our client look like a hero–not just the ingredients!

As with all projects, the first thing we did was plan and strategize, and from there, the Mood Book for the sauce line was born. It specified the elements and parameters for every one of the sauces to appear in all visual media, including advertisements, social media, print, and any additional parts of the marketing campaign. Mood Books are a valuable asset that allows everyone involved to stay consistent throughout all platforms.

Next, we designed and produced a series of tasting experiences for Barilla’s U.S. employees, key influencers, and media that allowed them to immerse themselves deeply into the new line of sauces. The goal was for all of them to learn about Barilla’s company story and the story behind each of the sauces, discover the ingredients from which each sauce sprang to life, and understand and embrace Barilla’s super-premium niche in the ever-growing and ever-changing sauce market.

Two rows of people sitting at adjacent long tables and blindfolded they have a decorated tasting plate in front of them


Using a proprietary methodology called BlindFocus™, developed by our own Hoby Wedler, Ph.D., 120 Barilla employees were blindfolded and “blindfocused” to avoid distractions, thus letting the other four senses come to the forefront.

While blindfocused, the employees enjoyed a discussion of Barilla history, the story of Vero Gusto sauce, and a tasting journey of each of the four sauces alongside their hero ingredients. As a result, participants rejoiced in the experience of hearing, feeling, smelling, and tasting.

In the end, the employees said they felt a new level of loyalty, ownership, and passion for Barilla. They also mentioned that this experience equipped them to represent the brand more authentically and genuinely. As a bonus, the employees were also excited about their newfound blindfocused ability to describe Barilla products, and couldn’t wait to share with their colleagues and loved ones.


In collaboration with Edelman, Barilla’s public relations agency, we created and produced an experience for media and influencers from New York City, New Jersey, and Connecticut. It revolved around all five senses as well.

We traveled throughout Italy intending to discover as much as possible about hero ingredients and the regions where they grow. Under Hoby’s direction, this advanced expedition allowed us to create an impactful evening event that began with guests tasting Italian Prosecco in a stark white “waiting lounge” to deprive their senses.

Next, all guests were blindfocused and led–in complete darkness–into the event space, where they were seated at long tables. Hoby then took the guests through a journey of the sauces using all non-visual senses. Guests delighted in sound, taste, smell, and touch as they embarked on a tasting tour of Italy, examining each hero ingredient and its corresponding sauce.

While abroad, Hoby interviewed many stakeholders about the hero ingredients. At the experience, he played curated sound bites of those interviews and general sounds of Italy that the guests thoroughly enjoyed.

Once the tasting portion of the evening concluded, guests were prompted to describe their perception of the room before removing their blindfolds. Some of the words they used were: “empty,” “with high ceilings,” “hard surfaces,” “cavernous.” Yet, as soon as they removed their blindfolds, they were ecstatic to realize that they were sitting in a space that was beautifully decorated and with art installations in perfect harmony with the Vero Gusto line.

The guests further enjoyed the evening sipping cocktails inspired by–and crafted with –each hero ingredient as they sat in a chair made of fresh herbs representing the Mediterranean.

The experience was a joyful and well-received surprise for the guests, as none of them knew what to expect when coming in earlier that evening.

By creating a one-of-a-kind experience that involved all five senses, together with Barilla, we told an inspiring, memorable, and unique story of its new products that produced a ripple effect in impact and impressions brought about by the media and key influencers.

Ready to create an impactful experience for your audience? Contact us today, and let’s start a conversation.