In 2008 and 2009, Ogilvy PR discovered a magic formula for Bertolli Frozen Meals – a combination of culinary credentials using chef Rocco DiSpirito, and celebrity cache using Hollywood celebrities. This surprising combination for frozen food allowed the brand to enjoy exposure in pop culture – an arena where its competition laid dormant.

In 2009, Bertolli Frozen Meals was the category leader in the two-serving frozen food category. But, new competitive entrants to the category, along with the suffering economy, were threatening the brand’s leadership and sales going into 2010. As the competition loomed, the mission for 2010 was to hold the business flat against the competitive set while reinforcing the brand’s restaurant quality ingredients and connecting to its Italian heritage. Along with the 360° marketing communications agency team, Ogilvy PR made magic happen, once again, and inserted Bertolli into American pop culture. Through a six-part web series starring Academy Award winner Marisa Tomei, chef Rocco DiSpirito and comedian Dan Cortese, Bertolli Frozen Meals rose above the competitive clutter by playing on a completely different field.

The challenge of this project was to hold Bertolli’s business flat in the face of mounting competition. Magical Elves, producer of Top Chef and The Amazing Race produced a six-part web series starring Academy Award Winner Marisa Tomei. Marisa, Chef Rocco DiSpirito and Actor Dan Cortese, as they traveled on a journey through Italy to discover the ingredients that make Bertolli Frozen Meals so special and authentic. PR was key to drive wide-spread awareness of the “Into the Heart of Italy” web series and connect it to the brand’s key messages in the media, leveraging the celebrities without allowing them to over-shadow the product messages.

Bertolli Business Objectives:
1. Hold the brand flat against emerging competition
2. Increase awareness
3. Drive video views of Into the Heart of Italy on yahoo hub

Ogilvy PR Objectives:
1. Generate consumer excitement about “Into the Heart of Italy” through 65 million high-influence media impression.
2. Launch a successful Facebook page with 20,000 fans by EOY 2010.
3. Continue to elevate the brand profile to “premium.”
4. Get people talking online about Bertolli and tie the brand to its Italian authenticity

Ogilvy PR was heavily involved in the research that went into picking the right mix of celebrity talent for all aspects of the program. From an initial list of 100 Italians, comedians and chefs, we helped the brand test, vet and analyze the three celebrities who went on the trip. We analyzed them for their compatibility with each other, their fit with the brand, their media draw/worthiness, and consumer likeability. Also, we chose and researched the celebrities for the finale party. Through this research and strategic contract, we were able to leverage Chad Ocho Cinco’s fanbase to grow Bertolli in social media.

The Bertolli target – the Discerning Palate – is a foodie who expects the highest quality of food and experience, but she doesn’t necessarily cook. She likes the better things in life – travel, art, and especially, entertainment. But, she’s fickle, not brand loyal, and loves to try the latest and coolest. Bertolli needs to keep her attention, remind her why the brand is different from the competition. She loves to try new restaurants and be “in the know” on the coolest spots.

She has a penchant for pop culture and consumes celebrity media, watches award shows and stays abreast of the latest fashion and dining trends – Bertolli must continue to insert itself where she reads, watches and clicks so that when she’s at the freezer case, making a decision about what’s for dinner, she chooses Bertolli, and thinks “oh, they’re the ones who did that cool video with Marisa Tomei.” We can inspire her preference by also being modern and “in the know.” Bertolli will never win on price, so we have to win on premium. Delivering our consumer a talkable, shareable, campaign that keeps Bertolli top of mind and delivers on premium is the key to capturing her share of wallet.

Strategic Approach:
“Into the Heart of Italy” is a six-part online series that we treated like a TV show season, using the power of celebrity to keep the series and the product top of mind with consumers, inspire preference and hold share.

• THE PREMIERE – Roll out the red carpet – the team treated Bertolli’s six-part online series similar to a television show season – launching at the Oscars, and with a media day in New York City with Marisa Tomei & Dan Cortese.
• THE SEASON – Introduce the series during commercial block on top TV show, Desperate Housewives, and get twitter buzzing with the news.
• THE FINALE – Leverage timely pop culture/entertainment “happening” (television season finale) to re-focus the media spotlight on Bertolli Frozen Meals and Into the Heart of Italy.

Campaign Execution:
THE PREMIERE: The night of the Academy Awards, Bertolli kicked off the campaign with an ad. Immediately following, Marisa appeared on ABC’s The View, and talked about her trip to Italy with Bertolli.

Marisa, Dan and Rocco hosted a luncheon for 40 high profile media and bloggers where they gave them a sneak peek of episode one – “The Secret of the Pinch.” Bloggers got a hands-on lesson from Rocco on how to pinch Farfalle just like Bertolli does.

THE SEASON: The season kicked off officially during an episode of Desperate Housewives. Ogilvy PR moderated a simulcast twitter party with previously identified influential Bloggers.

THE FINALE: To keep consumers watching all the way through the end of the series, and fuel the media fire, we hosted a celebrity-studded finale party in Los Angeles. Actor, Rob Lowe, who had just announced his Brothers and Sisters departure, Drea Di Matteo of Desperate Housewives, Chad OchoCinco, a Cincinnati Bengal turned Dancing With the Stars phenomenon with almost 1 million twitter followers, and others in addition, came to celebrate the finale of the season and enjoy an Italian dinner like Marisa, Dan and Rocco did on tour. This night was complemented by an “Into the Heart of LA” Blogger tour.

Summary of Results:
Media coverage
• To date, the campaign surpassed its media goal by generating 72 unique media placements (excluding SMT results) and more than 100 million media impressions.
• The coverage included placements in outlets highly valued by the brand as those that directly reach its consumer including: The New York Times, Us Weekly, Extra, Access Hollywood, OK!

Relation to overall goals and business objectives:
From the client’s mouth…“We have the highest awareness, and brand pyramid scores ever! We really drove the business with our 360 program. 1H awareness was at 62% vs. 55% end of 2009, and the highest ever. We had over 750K unique users to our Yahoo hub, watching over 1.4MM video streams, and spending an average of 2-3 minutes on the videos, some seeing as long as 4-6 minutes. We have over 18K Facebook fans with over 70% actively engaged, speaking with us in any given month, we are still evaluating the final business objectives as we are still in our year, but are on track to meet year-end goals” – Celiena Adcock, Bertolli Brand Building.