Winner 2018




Lead Agency



The Challenge

Think tank Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition Foundation wanted to spur a dialogue and encourage further debate around the challenges affecting the global food system: the coexistence of hunger and obesity, the overexploitation
of natural resources and food waste.

The Barilla Foundation partnered with the Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the research arm of The Economist Group, and challenged us to design a multi-channel communication programme that would leverage the credibility
of the EIU to deliver a campaign with cutting-edge content.

The aim of this partnership was to further highlight Barilla as a leading, authoritative voice on issues of food sustainability and nutrition and prompt the engagement of civil society, policy makers, and businesses on the food
challenges that the world is now facing.

The Strategy

We proposed to build a robust and thought-provoking research programme on the theme of food and sustainability through the creation of the Food Sustainability Index.

The Food Sustainability Index (FSI) measures the sustainability of food systems in 34 countries around three key issues outlined in the 2015 BCFN Milan Protocol and designed around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The index looks at policies and outcomes around sustainable food systems and diets through a series of key performance indicators that consider environmental, social and economic sustainability. The index seeks to address
three main paradoxes identified in the 2015 BCFN Milan Food Protocol: Food loss and waste, Sustainable agriculture, Nutritional challenges.

This project is also intended to support global efforts around the SDGs. The index is linked not only to the SDG on hunger but also to those on climate change, life on land, sustainable cities, employment, responsible consumption
and production, as well as gender equality, good health, poverty, education and infrastructure.

The first edition of the FSI, developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit with the Barilla Center for Food & Nutrition and published in 2016, ranked 25 countries according to their food system sustainability. Due to the great success of the first edition, the 2017 edition added nine new countries—including seven from the wider Mediterranean region (Greece, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Portugal, Spain and Tunisia), plus Hungary and Sweden.

In addition to the index and research deliverables, we aimed to design and deliver a powerful campaign that emphasised the BCFN Foundation’s association with the trusted and influential EIU brand, highlighting its leadership position on this critical theme. Through our channels and innovative content, we wanted to build engagement with an informed and influential audience.

The Implementation

All of the quantitative and qualitative data in the Food Sustainability Index was collected and analysed by the Economist Intelligence Unit project team. Data was gathered from reputable international, national and industry sources including the Economist Intelligence Unit’s internal databases. In cases where data was incomplete or missing, Economist Intelligence Unit analysts developed custom estimation models that aggregate proxy data series
and use statistical analysis to estimate data points, where appropriate.

In order to maximise the impact of this tool, a white paper was written to highlight the main stories behind the numbers, this cornerstone research has been organised along the index structure and included qualitative insights
drawn from in-depth interviews with relevant experts and opinion leaders on agriculture, nutrition and food loss and waste.

The paper acted as the central asset for the programme and offered a platform for dialogue with BCFN’s institutional target audience, as well as valuable content for BCFN to use and reference at its own events, among its media
contacts and across its own communication channels.

Moreover, the EIU designed and deliver a powerful communications and marketing campaign across traditional press, social media and events platforms in order to raise awareness and engage opinion leaders and the general public.

This multi-channel communications effort leveraged the credibility of The Economist and EIU brand to build a global audience and inform the public on the most interesting and up to date themes relating to food sustainability. A list of global influencers on the field were engaged to write about the index and further spread the results and outcomes across their respective communities.

The Result

  • The FSI attracted high levels of organic social engagement, a particularly big feat considering changes to
  • Facebook’s algorithm. Organic social media reach is now over 3 million, 166% higher than global index launched October 2017
  • Aggregated results of the press campaign shows an AVE of £518,771, and an increase of 153% YOY from the 2016/2017 Food Sustainability Index
  • The press campaign attracted global coverage in publications such as The Guardian, Reuters, HuffPost, Voice of America, Japan Times, New Delhi Times, and The Australian
  • The total reach of the press campaign was 431 million, and gained over 459 mentions
  • Site traffic and performance is extremely strong, with 16,308 visits within the first 8 weeks of the campaign
  • Content Engagement is also very strong, with the average time spent on site at 2m:58s, 197% above The Economist benchmark.
  • The best performing content pieces, a blog and a case study, achieved 16:02s and 13:06s time on page respectively