Mezzetta®, the #1 producer of glass packed olives and peppers, wanted to raise awareness of their tomato marinara sauce line among parents, foodies, and Millennials in the United States. Influencers in the program made and shared original recipes for Italian inspired dishes featuring Mezzetta marinara sauces. Their stories, recipes, and mouthwatering food photography inspired audiences to visit Mezzetta’s landing page and submit their email addresses in a sweepstakes to win a trip to Italy.

We’ve gathered five of the top-performing sponsored stories from the Mezzetta program. These influencers went above and beyond in both their program performance metrics and the quality of the content. Read on to see what worked for them and take away some inspiration for your future sponsored posts.

Tastes of Lizzy T

Tastes of Lizzy T, a food website founded and edited by the family team of Julie, Maddie, and Kinslee Clark, created an Italian sloppy joe recipe with Mezzetta marinara sauce and fresh mozzarella. Their sponsored post narrative shared their love for traveling together as a family, tying in Mezzetta’s sweepstake offering.

“My addiction to Italian food fuels that desire to travel to that boot-shaped European country. Considering that American-Italian food is probably much different than authentic Italian, I know my world would be rocked! Until I get to visit, I’m going to bask in all of my favorite Italian recipes, including these Italian Sloppy Joe Sandwiches.”

Tastes of Lizzy T’s video demonstration of their Italian sloppy joe recipe went viral on Facebook, getting over 100,000 views and 3,400 shares. As a result, their sponsored story generated the most social engagements of any of the Mezzetta program posts.

Dinner Then Dessert

Dinner Then Dessert, a food website balancing delicious confections with healthy meals by Sabrina Snyder, created pepperoni pizza bites with Mezzetta marinara dipping sauce for her sponsored post. As a private chef and mom, Dinner Then Dessert knew that many of her readers were also balancing familial duties and professional roles. With this in mind, she designed her pizza bites to be quick and easy to make. Unlike like their processed grocery store counterparts, Dinner Then Dessert’s recipe is made with natural ingredients and delivers a healthy dose of vegetables.

“Now you can avoid the guilt you may feel when you pop some of the pre-made ones in the oven or microwave knowing they have so many ingredients you can’t even pronounce, much less identify. Since we makes these Pepperoni Pizza Bites for the little ones in the house as a treat, we do our best to make them as healthy as we can. In the past I have added some very finely diced red and yellow bell peppers as well as onion or carrots. It is an easy way to get some vegetables into the meal that your kids may otherwise fight against eating.”

Snyder’s emphasis on simplicity and large, well-composed photos drew in her readers, inspiring them to visit Mezzetta’s landing page and enter to win a trip to Italy. Dinner Then Dessert’s post generated one of the highest traffic and social engagement performances in the program.

Unicorns in the Kitchen

Unicorns in the Kitchen, a food website by Shadi Hasanzade-Nemati, made Cheesy Rosemary Garlic Monkey Bread with a Mezzetta marinara dipping sauce.

“If there was one bread I could eat for the rest of my life, it would be this cheesy rosemary garlic monkey bread. What makes this bread a favorite of ours is how easy it is to make it from scratch. And I love the different flavors that can be added to this bread since the dough itself has a neutral taste. I served it with Mezzetta Caramelized Onion & Butter marinara sauce and its simplicity and freshness took the bread to a whole new level!”

Unicorns in the Kitchen did something a little different with her visuals by including a GIF with her post. The GIF illustrates that the best way to enjoy this meal is by pulling the monkey bread apart then dipping it in the Mezzetta sauce. Her audience was intrigued by this moving content and retweeted and repinned her content over 1,300 times combined.

Plating Pixels

Matt Ivan, owner and editor of Plating Pixels, calls himself a food geek because he combines healthy recipes with food science tips. For his original recipe. he made Pizza Stuffed Bell Peppers with whole yellow and red bell peppers and Mezzetta marinara.

Plating Pixels calls this recipe a “food hack” as he completely swapped the carb-loaded pizza crust for healthy bell peppers.

“It’s a unique recipe that takes classic pizza ingredients but adds a fun twist. Instead of a traditional crust, or even a gluten-free variety, I’ve removed the “crust” completely. Simply fill into a roasted bell pepper half to create a pizza stuffed bell pepper, plus its automatically gluten free with this simple variation!”

Followers took notice to Plating Pixels’s unique pizza offering. His content earned one of the highest Twitter engagements of the program, with over 1,000 retweets (two times greater than the program average).

Apollo & Luna

Apollo & Luna is a food website focusing on plant-based recipes and mindful living. Owner and editor Molly Ashworth wrote a post for Mezzetta’s Story of Sauce program featuring a simple, one-pot vegan pasta dish using Mezzetta’s marinara sauce, fresh basil, and penne pasta. She began her sponsored story with a cute anecdote about her young son’s love of pasta, then tied in the Mezzetta giveaway through a story from her college days:

“I lived in France for a semester abroad, and we took a train to a small town in Italy for a day trip. It was such a magical place, and I wish that we had the chance to explore some of the larger cities in Italy. Now’s your opportunity to enter for a chance to win a trip to Italy and take a tour of the tomato farm in San Marzano and take a cooking class. What an awesome trip!”

Her top-down angled recipe photos were popular on Instagram, driving the top engagements for the channel with over 1,000 likes and comments. Because Instagram is all about capturing moments and sharing quality photography, Apollo & Luna’s approach to featuring top-down angled photos resulted in a higher than average audience engagement rate.

Whether it’s introducing a new type of visual content through videos and GIFs or taking a classic recipe and adding your own twist, these top moments from the Mezzetta Story of Sauce program demonstrate ways you can improve your program performance. Remember, the best performing content is the content that inspires audiences to take action. Read our blog posts about how to improve your sponsored stories with video content, the power of adding GIFs to website posts, and taking mouthwatering food photos.