Activative Campaign Of The Week - Barilla Leverages Tennis Season Start Via ‘Masters Of Pasta’ Campaign Led By Federer and Chef Oldani

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A new year means a new tennis season and between Christmas and New Year the pasta giant Barilla leveraged this with a new campaign fronted by brand ambassador and tennis icon Roger Federer and chef David Oldani that revolved around a cooking lesson and the message that the endorsers and the brand are all linked by being ‘Masters’.

The campaign claims that Federer and Oldani are both ‘Masters’ in sport and cooking respectively, just as the brand Barilla has been a ‘Master’ in pasta making for over 140 years.

The lead spot creative set-up is that with 1000+ match wins Federer is a master of tennis, but with 0 minutes of cooking he’s a complete amateur in the kitchen. So Barilla, the world’s largest pasta company, invited him to take his first cooking lesson with Italian chef (and holder of a Michelin star) Davide Oldani.

Set to the soundtrack of ‘Zorba’s Dance’ by Mikis Theodorakis, the spot (which launched on 27 December) sees Federer prepare a spaghetti, tomato and mint dish under the watchful eye of Oldani.

Linked by the #MastersOfPasta hashtag, the campaign is also promoted on Federer’s own social channels ( including on his personal Twitter feed which boasts 11m followers).

According to the brand, Federer ‘perfectly represents Barilla’s three-S revolution: simplicity, sincerity and spontaneity, and embodies the true essence of sportsmanship: he is one who, regardless of numerous victories and successes, never ceases to get engaged or to improve himself’.


Just when you think you’ve seen pretty much every type of sports star brand endorsement imaginable, along comes another in a category you’ve never imagined and another attempt at drawing a palatable synergy between the endorser, the sport and the product.

Nevertheless, the spot has notched up an astonishing 31.5m YouTube views (according to the Google owned platform’s statistics) alone in the week since its launch so who are we to express any doubts about product synergies or sponsorship fits?

There are clearly plenty of Federer fans and pasta lovers out there hungry for social media sports star cooking spots.

Plus, it helped fill the traditionally quiet period for sports promotional activity between Christmas and New Year – which offers potential to cut avoid too much competitive clutter.

This time of the year typically sees little sports marketing activation beyond the start of the new tennis year, the NBA’s Xmas schedule, plus the final regular season matchups in the NFL and, of course, the ever hectic festive Premier League fixtures.

It was last May that Federer and Barilla announced a long-term global partnership to promote pasta and sauces products.

The tennis super star lends his image to TV and print advertising campaigns and also promote the brand and its products through his social media accounts.

The financial terms of the agreement were not released, but, according to Forbes, the 18-time Grand Slam winner is set to earn US$40 million from the deal.

Federer himself announced the personal endorsement deal on his Facebook page, saying: “It has always been there for me, but I’ve never told you. Now it’s time to unveil my invisible supporter since the beginning: Pasta! Grazie Barilla! #FedererLovesPasta and #BarillaLovesFederer”.

The pasta company is one of Federer’s 11 personal sponsors: his other endorsement include tie-ups with Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, Credit Suisse, Jura, Moet & Chandon, Lindt, Wilson, Nike, NetJets and Sunrise.



This case study originally appeared on Activative Source: an intelligence tool featuring the most creative and effective ideas in sponsorship activation, rights holder marketing and sportsbiz campaigns from around the world. Activative Source helps anyone in the world of partnership marketing understand why and how the landscape is evolving (and with what success).

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