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Giovanni Rana (born October 15, 1937 in Cologna Veneta, Italy) is a chef and entrepreneur and founder of the line of Italian food products which bear his name. Rana continues to run the company today, along with his son Gianluca, producing over 48,000 tons of pasta annually. The brand is a market leader or major player in all European markets and beyond, with production plants in Italy, Argentina and the USA, and over 600 employees worldwide. Additionally, the company owns and operates approximately 25 restaurants in various locations within Italy.
After working in his brothers' local bakery, Rana started his own company in 1962, making tortellini in the Italian village of San Giovanni Lupatoto, near Verona. The pasta was initially made by hand, but with increasing demand Rana switched to machine-made pasta in 1968, patenting the machinery that was developed for making filled pasta shapes. In the 1980s, the Rana brand expanded throughout all of Italy. Today, Rana describes his company as "the unchallenged leader in the European fresh pasta market."
The company's growth was aided by an advertising campaign begun in the early 1990s, featuring the producer himself to reassure consumers of the authenticity of its products. This concept was not new, since there had been earlier similar campaigns, such as Gancia or Clement Ciccarelli with his toothpaste Pasta del Capitano, Cesare Ragazzi with his "I have a wonderful idea on the head" or Renzo Valsecchi, who was selling mattresses himself on TV, and also had a shop in San Giovanni Lupatoto.
In the case of Giovanni Rana, however, considerable advertising expenditure brought more exposure and more notoriety. Initially Rana did not believe in advertising, so in 1983 only one spot on Telenuovo, the local broadcaster of Verona, aired. Rana was convinced to switch to national television by the small advertising agency Il Volo of Verona and his wife, Maria Laura Murari, who was the first person to be featured in a Rana advertisement. This first ad was designed and produced by the movie director Mauro Vittorio Quattrina and shot by Pratesi, in Pienza in Tuscany. The strapline was: "For the lifestyle of today, a great tradition of goodness".
Quattrina has said that Rana preferred to invest in sheds rather than in advertising, but that his wife Laura was the most enthusiastic. He also recounts an anecdote: During the shooting of the first spot, the agency proposed to Rana the idea that he himself should appear in the next campaign, but Rana said: "No, because I'm carrying a few extra kilos I don't want people to think that the tortellini make you fat." The campaign was a success and the brand grew in sales. However, Rana changed advertising agencies afterward, and later claimed credit for coming up with the idea himself. Television critic Aldo Grasso wrote: "The great dream of Giovanni Rana is this: he can afford to move his face from local TV to national TV" (TV undeclared, p. 31).
In October 2012 the Giovanni Rana pasta company opened its first restaurant in the United States at the Chelsea Market complex in the Chelsea neighborhood of the New York City borough of Manhattan. The same year the firm opened a signature restaurant at Regent's Place in London, England, which is its first eatery in the United Kingdom.
Rana also supplies the pasta for the Sainsbury's supermarket chain's house brand in the UK.
- Giovanni Rana, "About My Company," giovanniranausa.com. Accessed 2008-04-10.
-  2012-10-25.Accessed-2013-01-24
-  2011-08-02.Accessed-2012-01-25