There are more than a few ways to know if your pasta is done cooking. There’s the Throw-It-Against-The-Wall method, the Cut-It-in-Half method, the Just Taste It method, and of course, the Set a Timer method. None of these, however, are very much fun to dance to.
Now pasta brand Barilla and its agency Publicis Italy have collaborated with Spotify to create a series of eight playlists timed to the perfect cooking times for a variety of different pasta shapes. There’s Mixtape Spaghetti, Boom Bap Fusilli, Pleasant Melancholy Penne, Moody Day Linguine, Top Hits Spaghetti, Best Song Penne, Timeless Emotion Fusilli, and Simply Classics Linguine, that span pop, hip-hop, indie, and classic hits, and are available to anyone on Spotify.
It’s not only the latest example of brands using Spotify as an advertising platform (see: KFC France’s Bucket Bangers), but this takes things a step further—and makes them more interesting—by going beyond mere marketing and turning the playlist into a useful tool.
Advertising as a utility isn’t a new concept, but it’s rarely done well. It’s when a piece of advertising goes beyond mere communication—a TV ad, billboard, product placement, or sponsorship—and doubles as something actually useful. If there was a Mount Rushmore of brand utility, Nike Plus would be the first member. This run tracking app was a game-changing tool for runners that also happened to be a damn good ad for Nike sneakers.
Barilla isn’t quite at that level, but falls more into the cleverly simple category populated by things like Nivea’s print ad that doubled as a phone charger, or IBM strategically placing billboards to become benches, stair ramps, and more.
Given the arms race for our collective attention (combined with a desire to avoid anything resembling advertising) marketers have long experimented with content that both stands on its own as a piece of entertainment and plugs the client’s brand. Here, Barilla manages to make something that’s entertaining and legitimately useful—and the idea is perfectly cooked.