How do you turn a successful pasta producer into an authoritative thought leader, able to unite the political, scientific and business community around the company?

Barilla’s strategy was to create a think tank to develop authoritative and scientific contents and to encourage an open debate involving decision makers and institutional stakeholders.

In two years, Barilla succeeded in building trust and an authoritative voice, and in uniting stakeholders and media around the company thanks to the International Forum on Food & Nutrition.

The BCFN was conceived as a center for multidisciplinary thinking and proposals concerning the wide themes of food and nutrition, to be addressed considering their economic, scientific, cultural and environmental aspects.

Burson-Marsteller has led all the communication activities and events.


STEP 1: Building the Foundations


  • Definition of the topic: the four areas analyzed by the project are: Food for All, Food for Health, Food for Culture and Food for Sustainable Growth;
  • Creation of an Advisory Board, that includes seven experts with competencies in economy, environment, health and society (Mario Monti, Barbara Buchner, Gabriele Riccardi, Camillo Ricordi, Umberto Veronesi, Claude Fischler);
  • Creation of a 5,000 qualified opinion leaders and decision makers database who have been reached through sending of papers and invitations to events;
  • Publication of 10 position papers concerning different topics, i. e. Nutrition and Health in Children, Climate Change and Agriculture, The Cultural aspects of Food, Water Management, Food and Health, GMOs…
  • Development of the website contents, visual identity and materials.




STEP 2: Meeting the Stakeholders


  • Defintion and organization of a high number of qualified events with different formats - presentations for the scientific community, congresses for the stakeholders and Institutional meetings - with outstanding speakers (i.e. Jeremy Rifkin, Mathis Wackernagel, Andrea Boltho, members of the European and Italian parliament...) addressed both to stakeholders and grass roots:


    • Rome, March 4th, Italian Senate: Food and health
    • Rome, May 4th: Food, lifestyle and health in children
    • Milan, May 17th: Scarcity of food resources and climate change
    • Milan, June 29th: Food and environment: what is good for you, is good for the Planet
    • Brussels, October 12th: Open debate on food, health and the environment


STEP 3: Creating the Arena


At the end of 2010 the 2nd International Forum on Food & Nutritionwas held. The event thought to be the “must be” event at an international level on the themes of food and nutrition.

During the two-days debates and conferences were discussed themes such as the sustainability of GMOs in the agri-food sector, the relationship between lifestyles, health and people’s wellbeing, the future production and consumption models.


Some figures of the events:

  • 62 speakers (among them Jeremy Rifkin, Raj Patel, Jean-Paul Fitoussi, Kjell Anders Nordström, Paul Roberts, Philip James, Charles Seaford)
  • 1,200 on site participants
  • 5,000 online streaming attendees
  • more than 100 journalists and bloggers
  • 10 TV broadcasters



Media Relations results:

  • The Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition got top coverage both on TV and national media:

·         260 media placements in 2010

·         More than 200 media placements in 2009

·         Almost about 70 media placements for the 1st and about 90 for the 2nd  International Forum on Food and Nutrition

·         Total ADV value: more than 5,000,000 €


The project is having an impact on Barilla’s reputation all over the world: on May 2010 a survey by the Reputation Institute of New York, conducted among the 600 most important companies in the world ranked by revenue, rates Barilla first among all the companies in the food industry at a global level.