Inside Barilla’s Viral Leftover Pasta Series on TikTok


Even for the most discerning home cook, it’s a burden that lays heavy: cooking more pasta than you need.

That’s why, when it found out that one in four pasta dishes made globally are wasted, Italian pasta and sauce maker Barilla made tackling food waste its mission.

Drawing on the Italian tradition of using pasta leftovers as main ingredients (see: arancini and pasta frittata), it used World Pasta Day in October as the launch platform for a TikTok campaign to bring Nonna’s secrets to a new generation.

For “Second Life Pasta,” the brand’s agency LePub enlisted creators to hijack viral pasta videos, using TikTok’s Stitch feature, which lets people splice together multiple videos to create original content.

The results included cacio e pepe becoming an omelet, puttanesca baked back to life, and pasta alla Norma cooked into a casserole. The campaign reached 110 million people on TikTok, which Barilla calculated amounted to saving more than 500,000 meals.

The work just scooped the Grand Prix at the inaugural TikTok Ad Awards, which were judged by creatives across Europe to celebrate the most creative, high-performing campaigns on the platform.

The campaign offers lessons in nonlinear creative, with Publicis-owned Le Pub’s chief creative officer Francesco Andrea Poletti saying it called for a fresh approach from his team.

“It’s a new kind of storytelling. It was also a big shift and change in terms of production—it was very light compared to the huge productions we’re used to, the costs of which which can run into the hundreds of thousands per day,” he said. “But this is the language of TikTok—we had to work with the right talent to make sure it felt right.”

A ‘sign of love’

LePub has been working with Barilla since 2021. Over the last three years, the pair’s partnership has focused on campaigns rooted in the brand’s Italian heritage and traditions, as well as more purposeful work.

Under the “Sign of Love” global platform, which centers on the joy of sharing pasta with loved ones, the brand has zoomed in on expressing important feelings through simple gestures.

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