Into the Heart of Italy - web seriesDuring last night’s Oscar telecast, trailers for a branded reality-based web series following Rocco DiSpirito, Marisa Tomei, and Dan Cortese as they travel through Italy exploring the unique passions of Italian cuisine were nestled between the iPad and Coca-Cola adverts (one of which featured Safety Geeks: SVI’s Tom Konkle). In addition to Dr. Horrible aka NPH himself opening the show and The LXD teaming up with Debbie Allen for the Best Score performance piece, the web space was fairly well represented.

Sponsored by Italian food product company Bertolli and made specifically to help promote their new line of Italian frozen dinners, Into the Heart of Italy marks the company’s largest marketing investment ever according to an interview with Gaston Vaneri, a marketing director who oversees Unilever’s U.S. frozen foods business (Unilever owns Bertolli). Being described as “Amazing Race meets Top Chef“, the show seeks to promote its product by celebrating a country known for it’s love of all things culinary.

It will be interesting to see if the huge investment in this series; from it being completely produced in Italy, to the use of celebrities, to the chunk of change required to advertise during the Academy Awards; will have a payoff not only in views for the series itself, but the obviously larger goal of driving up sales for Bertolli products. This will be one of keep an eye on, with the first episode of the series launching March 14th.

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