When Bertolli Classic Frozen Meals were introduced in 2005, the brand created a new experience in frozen food becoming the category innovator with restaurant-quality meals. With new competition looking to capitalize on Bertolli’s success, the brand needed to lay claim to its premium, authentic Italian products in order to retain its loyal customer base.
The brand set out to connect its food-focused customer to the Italian heritage and authentic Italian preparations that define Bertolli by literally taking the consumer “Into the Heart of Italy.” Bertolli created a reality web series, “Into the Heart of Italy: Six Adventures, Three Celebrities, One Mission… To Unlock the Secrets of Italian Passion for Food and Life,” featuring celebrity chef Rocco DiSpirito and actors Marisa Tomei and Dan Cortese as they explored the food and culture of Italy.
The challenge was posed: How to ensure consumers truly engage with the content, generating as many views as possible over the course of the entire series. Bertolli knew it needed to make a connection from the webisodes to the Brand by bringing Italian passion for food and life into their own home.
One prime solution: Harness the trusted influence and loyal audiences of bloggers to ignite and sustain interest in the series, and connect the content with the value proposition of Bertolli. Offline experiences extended interest, viewership and engagement with the brand. Through engaging the right influencers, the team more than quadrupled goals with 40MM+ online impressions in three months and contributed to the more than 1.4 million views the campaign garnered on the Yahoo.com hub site.

Goal: Engage consumers with the “Into the Heart of Italy” to drive viewership of the web series

Target Audience
Consumer Target: Female foodies aged 25 – 54 years old
Influencer Target: To focus impact, the team defined ten blogger categories representing passion for food, life and Italian culture, and niche categories of food and ingredient enthusiasts, such as:

• Everyday Foodies
• Moms
• Italian Travel and Culture
• Cheese and Wine

Identification: Using these categories, 200 online bloggers were identified and strategically vetted based on:

• Reputation
• Tone of voice
• Accessibility and Visibility
• Reach
• Receptiveness to packaged foods, frozen meals and celebrity spokespeople


• Create experiences to generate interesting conversation and recommendations about the series
• Integrate key Bertolli meal experiences into every activation: trial, ingredients, taste and authenticity
• Give bloggers creative and talkable pieces to share with their audiences
• Tap the celebrity of the series to give bloggers a special opportunity

The program was introduced with two launch events, sustained with continued engagement and celebrated with a finale experience.
Core strategy: Introduce influential bloggers to the “Into the Heart of Italy” webisodes, spark sharing through embedding webisodes in blog posts and engaging their audiences.
Tactic: Create mini culinary adventures for bloggers that echoed the content of individual webisodes. These adventures romanticized Italy and, ultimately, brought them back to the authentic, fresh flavors and quality ingredients found in Bertolli Frozen Meals, allowing them to recreate “Into the Heart of Italy.”

Exclusive Events: High-profile food bloggers were invited to attend one of two exclusive events recreating the series for them live with culinary excursions and demonstrations. The brand also tapped the celebrity of DiSpirito and Cortese to add excitement and interest.
• The NYC Launch Event and media lunch included an exclusive blogger-only session with DiSpirito and Cortese, where they shared a hands-on skill they learned in Italy, further bringing the webisodes to life: how to make the farfalle “perfect pinch” as demonstrated in the first webisode
• The finale event, dubbed “Into the Heart of LA,” allowed bloggers to tour several culinary hot spots reflecting the fresh quality ingredients and experiences portrayed in the series and concluded with a food and wine pairing session lead by DiSpirito
o To spark active participation, influencers posted a five-day contest in which readers could win a chance to join them on the trip by viewing, commenting, and sharing the webisodes
Continued Engagement: All 200 bloggers were introduced to the series through a Twitter party rich with wine pairings and a Bertolli Frozen Meal. Following the party, conversation was sustained throughout the series with unique culinary incentives reflecting specific webisode content and timed with each webisode debut - demonstrating more opportunities to unlock the secrets of Italian food at home.
Integrating Bertolli: Each webisode premiere was timed with approximately ten blog posts, each embedding the webisode and touting the featured Bertolli Frozen Meal. Below is a prime example of how the webisodes came to life for the bloggers and their readers:
• Webisode: In “The Secret of the Butteri,” DiSpirito, Tomei and Cortese explored the Maremma countryside where they unlocked the secret of the Italian cowboys (Butteri), cooked with the world-renowned Italian Master of Meat, and discovered the inspiration behind Bertolli Frozen Meals’ New Tuscan Braised Beef with Yellowskin Potatoes
• Experience: Bloggers were given their own beef braising kit, allowing them to experience the time-consuming braising process while highlighting the quality ingredients used in the Tuscan Braised Beef with Yellowskin Potatoes Frozen Meal, which can be prepared in just 12 minutes
• Amplification: Each blogger chosen to participate was provided with an identical package to give away to a reader, providing an additional method for bloggers to engage their audiences and incentivize them to spread the message via blog comments or Tweets about their favorite part of a webisode or Italian meal

Results: Evaluation of Success and Measurement
Goal: Engage consumers with the “Into the Heart of Italy” to drive viewership of the web series
• Increased total impressions by 252%
• Generated 40 million + impressions with 155 blog posts, 23 blogger Facebook posts and 1,718 Twitter mentions, most in the first three months
• Highly influential bloggers shared at a rate four times higher than anticipated
• Continued to average 13 posts/week with high level of engagement averaging 82 comments/post with some receiving upwards of 2,100 comments
• 70 posts embedded “Into the Heart of Italy” webisodes
• Increased viewership and unique visits to www.IntotheHeartofItaly.com, www.VillaBertolli.com and @Bertolli
• Contributed to the more than 1.4 million views the campaign garnered on Bertolli’s website
Entire Into the Heart of Italy Campaign
• “Into the Heart of Italy” increased Bertolli sales, volume, unit and dollar share (compared to 12-weeks prior)
• “Into the Heart of Italy” increased market penetration as did share of requirements, a measure of loyalty (compared to one year prior)
• Unit shares were also up versus Q4 ‘09