Back to Our Roots: Marketing PreGel Around the World – An Interview with Manuel Sirgiovanni and Jillian Hillard

Manuel Sirgiovanni

Manuel SirgiovanniManuel Sirgiovanni (MS)

What’s your position/title at PreGel and how long have you been with the company?

MS: PreGel Marketing Manager for both the Italian and international markets since 2008.

Briefly describe your position and what you handle in your position, and/or describe a typical day for you?

MS: I plan and define in accordance with General Management the marketing portion of the company’s annual business plan. I define and coordinate the marketing and sales strategies for both the Italian and international markets, collaborating with subsidiaries and international distributors. I also collaborate with R&D in the development and launch of new products and concepts. Overall, I implement and manage all the marketing strategies in order to support PreGel and its brands globally.

Describe the specialty desserts market in Italy?

MS: While many other countries experienced the recent global economic crisis, the Italian specialty dessert market did not appear to have suffered the same consequences. Products like gelato, sorbetto, or traditional desserts such as pannacotta and tiramisù are emerging as important parts of the “Made in Italy” phenomenon around the world, creating a huge global demand.

What is the biggest challenge in the Italian and international markets?

MS: The biggest challenge for PreGel, which is also our mission, is to continuously supply products that combine the highest quality with constant innovation in order to simplify individual production steps. At the same time, it is also our mission to firmly sustain the development of artisanal gelato markets all over the world.

What types of marketing support does PreGel Italy provide its customers?

MS: In accordance with every market and customer need, we provide a strong strategic marketing consulting service with variations of support. In recent years, marketing for PreGel has become essential, in order to support and lead each customer to a certain success. A proven example can be seen in the U.S., where our local marketing department is doing a great Job. This contributes to the growth of PreGel AMERICA, because the success of our customers is also our success.

What’s one of the most successful marketing campaigns PreGel has done under your tenure?

MS: One of the most successful campaigns was the recent relaunch of the brand HappyGelato®. HappyGelato® serves as the brand and strategy that promotes artisanal gelato to all ages. Our relaunch allowed us to set new goals, redesign the brand and better target our audience through various marketing promotions (this included strategic partnerships with major film companies such as 20th Century Fox and Sony). By instituting the rebrand, we were able to relaunch HappyGelato® in both existing and new markets, and give birth to the first “artisanal” brand of gelato in the world. The HappyGelato® brand is very important to our marketing initiatives as it provides an opportunity for us to communicate directly with consumers. This direct access allows us to assist our customers and promote artisanal gelato at a higher level, which helps increase demand. We still have many exciting things in store for the brand but feel we have a very strong foundation for it.

What’s the best marketing advice you have/would share with PreGel clients?

MS: In this case the answer is easy … Don’t be afraid to invest in marketing and innovation, because in the end, they always produce results and differentiate your business from the competition.

Jillian HillardJillian Hillard (JH)

What’s your position/title at PreGel and how long have you been with the company?

JH: My official title is Marketing Manager at PreGel AMERICA. I have been with the company just over three years.

Briefly describe your position and what you handle in your position, and/or describe a typical day for you?

JH: In marketing, no two days are alike. There are many responsibilities that come with my position, but I will keep it short by saying that I basically oversee the marketing program for PreGel AMERICA, collaborating with the global strategy set forth by Manuel Sirgiovanni and General Management. From public relations to product promotion and continuously evolving our website, I manage a plethora of projects focused on establishing our company as a true leader in the U.S. market and providing value-added service to our customers. Our department, along with the company, continues to grow and evolve every day, and while we have made many strides within the market, we still have a long way to go. We currently have three additional staff members in the department including a graphic designer, marketing assistant and events assistant.

Describe the specialty desserts market in the U.S.?

JH: Over the last few years, desserts have really gained momentum in the U.S. market. Often the forgotten last course, now Americans are skipping right to desserts, and there are a number of reasons why. The unhealthy stigma associated with desserts has

faded with the emergence of nutritious and health-conscious desserts such as frozen yogurt. The growing visibility of desserts, dessert-making and even dessert competitions through media outlets such as The Food Network and Bravo have also opened up consumers’ eyes to the artistry and craft of desserts, which has created a greater appreciation and following. In fact, enrollment in pastry programs and schools across the country are their highest ever, and dessert businesses are thriving.

What is the biggest challenge in the U.S. market?

JH: The biggest challenge in the U.S. dessert market continues to be educating the general public on global desserts and tastes. While there has been more exposure through TV media, there is still so much for Americans to discover about the dessert world. Americans are very committed to their dessert traditions. Through product innovation and education, we continuously strive to meet this challenge.

What types of marketing support does PreGel AMERICA provide its customers?

JH: PreGel AMERICA is very committed to its customers from a marketing standpoint. We offer a variety of programs to aid our clients. We have an imagery bank we offer to our customers to assist with their signage, menus and point-of-sale signage, and we even have a program called Marketing-in-a-Box that offers them a preprinted marketing starter kit. We have also implemented many different promotions, a recipe database, and I travel throughout the year to sit down and consult with our customers at their locations to really understand their marketing needs.

What’s one of the most successful marketing campaigns PreGel AMERICA has done under your tenure?

JH: In sheer numbers, it would be our eNewsletter program that includes our Spotlights Product Promotional eBlast, our Corporate eNewsletter, Professional Training Center eNewsletter and 5-Star Pastry Series eNewsletter. Delivering compelling content directly to our customers’ inboxes for them to read at their leisure and link back to tools on our website has proven to be very effective. Overall, I believe it is a focus on educational content. Our customers seek information that allows them to succeed, and we are committed to providing that information to them on everything from trends to industry news and even how to handle personnel. Our magazine, Views from the Tree has been a great success as well, and is an award-winning publication.

What’s the best marketing advice you have/would share with PreGel clients?

JH: Planning ahead and creating good content. Planning ahead and setting aside time to outline your marketing plan for the year is critical and can keep you on track. So many of our customers get bogged down by the hustle and bustle of everyday, marketing becomes secondary or forgotten altogether, and that can really hurt a business. If you take the time to get a plan together, half the battle is won. And the second half is content. What is the message your customers are seeking about your product, and how can you deliver it? Educate and inform consumers about what they are consuming and make it interesting. The number one thing I hear from PreGel clients about their customers is that they always ask what gelato is. To me that says if you are a gelato shop, you should have signage front and center to explain it.

Have questions or suggestions for Manuel or Jillian, email