With Specialized Events, Summit’s Food, Nutrition and Beverage Group Helped Barilla Create More, and More Meaningful Relationships With Their Customers
You know the one—that blue box in the pasta aisle with an Italian name: Barilla. You’ve also known you could find it shelved snuggly between that bag of short grain rice and can of tomatoes in your kitchen cabinet.
But there’s something else about the spaghetti you slurped next to your little brother that might surprise you. Barilla has come to boil in drastically different kitchens across the country. Corporate Executive Chefs toss it up with delectable shrimp scampi in high-end hotel and restaurant chains; college students gobble it down in dining halls across the country. That familiar blue box has, in short, spread its wings (or flaps?), and ventured boldly into the vast and varied world of the foodservice industry. Remarkably, one very small, but very determined team at Summit Group was the pasta giant’s guide there.
Samantha Sullivan, Account Executive for Summit’s Food, Nutrition and Beverage Group, works with her team of (surprisingly) only four account people to create for Barilla—and all of their food and beverage clients—comprehensive marketing plans for the entire calendar year. Leveraging the combined forces of special promotions, e-communication, tradeshows, advertising, and website management, the group operates more like an in-house marketing department, entrenched in each client’s company culture, than a third-party operation.
Barilla had virtually no marketing presence in the foodservice industry before they became a client at Summit in 2008, said Sullivan. Prior to that, their lean foodservice sales force concentrated efforts primarily on restaurants. Summit’s involvement led to a broader segment focus: hospitals, college campuses, K-12 cafeterias, and beyond. “We immerse ourselves in our clients’ business and work with them to develop a foodservice marketing program. We are especially versed at working with strong retail brands like Barilla and helping them formally market in the foodservice space,” said Sullivan.
And because the food service industry is all about relationships, she says, specialized events created and executed by Summit’s Food, Nutrition, and Beverage Group—that enable in-person connections with and even between customers—is one of the best ways to build them.
This June, for the second year in a row, 14 Executive and Research and Development Chefs from across the country found themselves in Seattle for three days of Barilla-sponsored food events. Each day was jam-packed with learning, cooking, and community-building activities at some of Seattle’s most exciting food hot spots and included celebrity guest speakers and hands-on food preparation. Combined, the program demonstrated firsthand that Barilla is more than pantry box of pasta: it is an entire philosophy about food, health, community, and forward-thinking cooking. Once again, the mastermind behind it all (and on scene) was Summit’s Food, Nutrition and Beverage Group.
Stay tuned to learn how Summit Group pulled it all off—and what Executive Chefs from Applebee’s to Gold Star Chili say they took away from the trip, beyond a lotta pasta, and a lotta fun.