Launching Vero Gusto with Barilla and Edelman


Barilla Inc. is the largest pasta and sauce company in the world. Running large operations in over fifty countries is very demanding and requires the efforts of thousands of employees. Barilla Inc. develops new products frequently.

Barilla North America aimed to launch a brand-new line of sauces in the United States near the end of 2019. These sauces are positioned as a super-premium brand and Barilla sees it important that their employees have a strong understanding of these sauces including their origin, their story, and what sets them apart in the marketplace. Furthermore, Barilla wanted to build a very impactful launch event for influencers and media in the heart of Manhattan.

The Task

Barilla Inc. sought to provide an opportunity for their employees in the United States office to better understand their new line of super-premium sauces. Barilla tasked the team with designing and executing a series of tasting experiences that would assist Barilla employees in better understanding the sauce line including the story behind it, the ideas which generated it, and its super premium niche in the ever-growing and ever-changing sauce market. Each sauce has a “hero ingredient”, one ingredient featured “front and center” in the sauce and on the package. All hero ingredients are sourced from specific regions of Italy and the new sauce is made in a traditional Italian method in Parma, Italy. This relationship led to Barilla working with Dr. Wedler to build and execute a launch event featuring the sauce for key influencers and media. 


Dr. Wedler and his team curated, prepared, and executed two experiences, each with approximately 60 Barilla employees, to help familiarize participants with the brand-new line of sauces. We used a proprietary tasting technique developed by Dr. Hoby Wedler which includes temporarily removing the eyesight of all participants using a blindfold. One benefit of this technique is that participants are not distracted by their mobile devices, computers, etc. and are more equipped to focus on what they hear, feel, taste, and smell.

Participants said they felt a new level of ownership and passion for Barilla products. They also expressed a newfound ability to describe Barilla products and, ultimately, represent the brand in a more authentic, genuine way.

Finally, in collaboration with Edelman, we designed and executed an exclusive brand activation for media and influencers from around New York City and the tristate area. Barilla requested an experience revolving around all five senses. To build the most impactful experience possible, Dr. Wedler and his team travelled throughout Italy to gather hero ingredients and learn about each hero ingredient’s region and how it is produced.

Together, we designed an evening beginning with guests tasting Italian Prosecco in a stark white “waiting lounge” to deprive their senses. Guests were then blindfolded and led completely in the dark into the event space where they were seated at long tables.

Dr. Wedler then led the guests through a journey of the sauces using all non-visual senses including sound, taste, smell, and touch. Guests embarked on a tasting tour through Italy where they examined each hero ingredient along with its corresponding sauce. Hero ingredients were sourced by Dr. Wedler from Italy. While in Italy, Dr. Wedler interviewed many stakeholders around the hero ingredients and played sound bites of those interviews as well as general sounds of Italy during the experience.

Once the tasting portion of the evening concluded, before removing their blindfolds, guests were invited to describe their impression of the room. They eagerly described it as being empty, having high ceilings and hard surfaces, and being cavernous. They removed their blindfolds to find they sat  in a space ornately decorated with art installations perfectly highlighting this line of sauce.

Guests were invited to taste passed bites containing the “hero ingredients”, taste cocktails crafted and inspired with each ingredient in mind, to sit in a chair made of fresh herbs to represent the Mediterranean, and so much more. This experience utilized each of our five senses to tell an inspiring, eye-opening, and unique story of exciting new product in the marketplace.


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