Barilla uses Sponsored Brands to help promote its brand for the holidays

The company

Since 1877, the family-owned Barilla brand, headquartered in Parma, Italy, has been the world’s largest pasta producer. Today, the multinational Barilla Group’s brand portfolio includes food products—from Italian bakery items to Scandinavian crispbread—sold in over 100 countries.

The partnership

In 2018, the Barilla Group began working with Witailer, an e-commerce solutions provider based in Milan, to help drive internal Amazon retail knowledge, specifically in advertising optimization, curated content creation, and customer experience. Witailer was founded in 2017 by a team who saw an opportunity to combine their expertise with analytics tools to help brands optimize their Amazon businesses. Witailer’s offerings range from channel auditing and strategy consulting to full e-commerce management and marketing planning.

quoteUpWe needed a partner who was able to support us in terms of digital knowledge, and Witailer was our best option. The team provided us a service tailored to our needs, making it easier for us to sell on Amazon.quoteDown
— Luca Ravazzoni, E-Commerce Manager, Barilla Group

The challenge

As a legacy purveyor of pantry staples, Barilla already benefited from strong brand familiarity and market reach. However, after selling through Amazon Retail, Pantry, and Prime Now, Barilla wanted to strengthen its Amazon retail sales and drive visibility of its Voiello pasta brand during the holiday season.

Voiello, a pasta brand within the Barilla Group portfolio, is a premium product made exclusively with Italian Aureo durum wheat, an ingredient prized by pasta makers for its high protein content and gluten strength. Though multiple Voiello stock keeping units (SKUs) were available on Amazon, the brand did not have a dedicated storefront and lacked the brand recognition and value perception necessary to drive sales of its comparatively high-priced products.

The strategy

Barilla and Witailer partnered on a strategy to help boost Amazon retail sales for Barilla’s entire product portfolio and promote specific products from the Voiello brand for the 2019 holiday season. Witailer deployed both Sponsored Products and Sponsored Brands campaigns to promote Voiello products, with a heavy emphasis on keyword and search term optimization.

A key component of the campaign was a seasonal gift box that bundled multiple Voiello SKUs into one product. The Scaramantica Box piqued customers’ curiosity about Voiello and offered additional value while reinforcing the brand’s premium positioning. By focusing on the box, Witailer was able to ramp up holiday-related keyword bidding and leverage Sponsored Brands to draw in seasonal customers.

In April 2019, Witailer built a Store for Voiello, helping drive brand awareness and making it easier for customers to shop the brand by incorporating relevant search terms into product descriptions. The agency also launched Sponsored Brands campaigns for Voiello, which helped the brand achieve high-visibility placements, improving brand visibility and helping drive customers to Voiello’s Store.

quoteUp“Sponsored Brands campaigns and Stores are a great way to help get customer attention, attract new-to-brand customers, and communicate the brand story.quoteDown
— Federico Salina, CEO, Witailer

Using keyword and search term metrics, Witailer began search term optimization for Voiello well ahead of the holidays. Though the initial budget was based on historical keyword data, results from the first Sponsored Brands campaigns allowed Witailer and Barilla to optimize the ad spend throughout the year and increase that investment for the holiday season.

Once the initial campaign results came in, Barilla boosted its Sponsored Brands investment by 510% between October and November without drastically changing its ACOS (advertising cost of sales). Meanwhile, Witalier ran keyword bidding on both generic, branded, and holiday-related keywords, which further improved brand awareness and directed customers to the Voiello Store.

quoteUpWe focused on highly ranked keywords and optimized content on titles, bullet points, and descriptions … Thanks to our API integration with Amazon Advertising, we were able to constantly monitor and eventually add these top keywords.quoteDown
— Alessandro Sgobba, Strategic Account Manager, Witailer

The results

From November 10 to December 14, 2019, Voiello sales increased by 205%. The box was particularly successful, generating 91.7% of Voiello sales and 29% of all Barilla Group sales on

Sales attributed to advertising rose by 57% from Q3 to Q4 of 2019, while the ACOS decreased by 2%. Sponsored Brand campaigns helped generate 29% of sales during the campaign, an increase of about 40% from the previous quarter. In addition to helping drive direct sales, Sponsored Brands helped build awareness by sending customers to the brand Store, where views rose by 42%.

The campaign also helped strengthen brand discovery. Out of the total attributable Sponsored Brands sales, close to 70% came from customers new to the brand.

quoteUpOur Amazon Advertising campaigns helped our Voiello gift box become one of Barilla’s best-selling products.quoteDown
— Zlatko Popovic, E-commerce Analyst, Barilla Group