Awards to Barilla communication

by Roberto Pagliari 

For Barilla, the 1950s represented a moment of great impulse for growth, and the spark that made the Company’s potential explode. Development involved the whole Company led by the extraordinary figure of Pietro Barilla, assisted by his brother Gianni. Above all things, production and communication were to be the pillars on which its robust growth would rest. While production witnessed a rationalization of the technological processes under the guidance of Manfredo Manfredi (1925-2013), the first engineer to be hired by the Company, Pietro Barilla called back an old acquaintance originally from Parma, who settled for years in Milan and who had already created two successful calendars in 1922 and 1939 to take care of communication: the graphic designer Erberto Carboni (1899-1984). His debut was flawless. His strategy can indeed be considered among the first examples in Italy of a coordinated image. The winning slogan “With Barilla pasta it’s always Sunday” was created at a coffee table at Piazza Garibaldi in Parma, the center square, where film critic Pietro Bianchi (1909-1976), writer and journalist Orio Vergani (1898-1960), and Pietro Barilla himself were sitting. Pietro was explaining his intention to search for a synthesis of the link between pasta, the Company and consumers: a claim, according to contemporary language, that would excite, give the idea of ​​the party and underline the importance of pasta in the collective life of the Italian society. Shortly thereafter, Carboni created the now famous “buon appetito pasta” poster with a spoon and fork with pasta on a blue background (buon appetito is an Italian formula to wish have a good meal).

The elegance and creativity of the campaign, released in the form of billboard posters, immediately stood out. In fact, the jury of the Italian National Advertising Award, which met on October 2, 1952 in Palermo, awarded Barilla and Erberto Carboni a Golden Palm with the following motivation: “For the most brilliant and effective advertising event of the year 1952”. The award consists of a diploma on rectangular paper, with the award logo printed in relief in gold and a trophy, consisting of a chiseled crystal block with a hardwood base (section of tree trunk), of irregular shape from which a greenery element in gold emerges.

The intuition that led to this success, however, was not the result of an isolated action, but had its roots in a constant search for a union between industry and culture, which saw Pietro Barilla sponsor the literature and arts magazine “Palatina” directed by the poet Attilio Bertolucci (1911-2000) and the 1953 Congress of Neorealist cinema, allowing him to be in contact in a discrete manner with the most prominent exponents of Italian culture, from which he drew inspiration for corporate communication.

The Golden Palm represented the first of a series of awards for advertising that marked Barilla’s history for several decades. Among the most significant of those preserved in the Historical Archive we remember the Mario Bellavista Gold Plate awarded for the enhancement of Italian communication and excellence, professionalism, and transparency by a jury of representatives of the largest associations. Barilla obtained this recognition in 1990 for the “Egg Pasta” campaign, in 1994 for the Mulino Bianco “Nature in the city” campaign, and again in 2002.