Tag: disruption


Saving Italy

I’ve just read a fascinating article that, depending on how you read it, can be terrifying or stimulating.

The article, published in Linkiesta a few days ago, paints a grim picture for the future of Italy’s younger population because of some very poor decisions made by previous generations.

It turns out that more than half of Italians aged between 50 and 60 have amongst the lowest levels of education in Europe.

In the 70’s and 80’s the idea of going to college was the last thing on the mind of the majority of Italian students, who quickly found jobs in the growing number of factories and offices across the country. However, 40 years later, Italy is now paying a very heavy price.

Source: Linkiesta

The problem with this philosophy is that the majority of the country’s workforce lack the skills to adapt to change and grow later in life, meaning they are forced to stay in the same, lower-paid jobs for longer than their neighbours.

Hence the enormous pressure on the state to reform the national pension scheme.

Whom the gods would destroy they first make mad.


According to the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA), the situation doesn’t seem to be intent on improving much over the next 25 years as other countries storm ahead with higher education initiatives, increasing the gap still further.

Italy has been stagnant for too long and needs help. This is no time for protectionism – we don’t have to play in defence.

There are those who play with numbers and negotiate with Brussels (and others paid to introduce frankly cruel and crazy schemes to protect the status quo but that’s another question). My job is to create a market with what I have.

I have Made in Italy, and I mean all of Italy.

I am convinced this asset is still our greatest USP across the globe, but just like everything that ages, it is in desperate need of TLC. It needs reinventing. It can no longer be used as a prestigious badge of honour to favour the country’s competitiveness and excellence when its core values are crumbling from the inside.

To start off, we need to redefine what Made in Italy means beyond blind national pride, which will only get you so far, particularly if you’re trailing everyone else on every other statistic.

This new meaning then needs to be shared. Shared amongst the entrepreneurs, the workers and the schools producing tomorrow’s leaders. Once we have shared value, then the social norms start to kick in.

And then we need to broadcast it. Correctly. In a clear and precise language that leaves no doubt about Italy’s values, its culture and its capacity to turn things around.

Copywritermadrelingua is an attempt to reverse engineer these three steps.

I don’t have the firepower to organize top-down think tanks but I do have the balls to contact every creative agency out there to see if they want to do something about this collectively, or whether they’d rather watch as the candle of Rome slowly expires.

It sounds far fetched, I know, but there’s purpose here.

More than turnover and competition, it’s about reinvention, higher standards and ethics – something that’s sadly missing from our daily routine.


Something’s not right

At first I was blind to it. A bittersweet presence in my daily life, an itch I could never quite scratch.

I put it down to the usual creative paradox where you’re never truly satisfied with something in the projects you work on. Was it the idea? The client? The team…? I could never really put my finger on it but something wasn’t right and so I kept looking for clarity.

Like all curious minds, mine found solace in the works of those who wield a higher power than me and on whose shoulders I proudly stand. I’m forever grateful for the fireworks of Seth Godin and Gary Vaynerchuk, but equally enthralled by Henry Mintzberg’s theories on emergent strategy.

And yet, an inquisitive mind has a knack of opening one door only to discover another one slightly ajar behind it, and the cycle continues.

All this academic soul searching would be pretty useless and self-serving if it didn’t move the game forward. And yet, despite the obvious professional growth and steady stream of successes, I didn’t see any real progress until I realized I was part of the problem.

It won’t have escaped any of you in marketing that every single one of your clients has, at some point, been disrupted. In the past four years alone, the automotive world has seen the arrival of electric cars and car sharing. Or what about the FMCG sector, which has gone so far online it’s now selling at a loss to keep up with the “ridiculously scary” Amazon.

Not enough? Then let’s talk about marble. If you’re like me and you live in Italy, you blindly associate marble with Carrara, but like everything in life, there’s far more to it than that. With marble production from Chinese, American and Turkish quarries going literally through the roof, Italy now has just 4.3% of the global market share of authentic marble production and is having a hard time maintaining that. Coupled with the (unexpected but predictable) arrival of cheaper artificial marble, even the age-old market of rocks have been shaken at its core.

And then the penny dropped.

We communicators are so busy adapting to our clients’ new surroundings we have forgotten that our world might be primed for disruption too. The unease that’s been growing inside of me is nothing more than the realization that we’re in a fast-flowing river of change but as a sector we’re actually standing still.

Think about it for a second. Apart from output (from TV to Digital), what exactly has disrupted the communication world? Nothing particular comes to mind.

Some of you might point out that one-time accountancy firms are now hiring creatives? Yeah that might unsettle us a little but they are the Goliaths of the marketing world so we take comfort in the fact that we’re not big enough to sit at those tables anyway.

No matter how edgy agencies and the talented professionals that work for them might be, our model hasn’t changed one bit in the past twenty years and that’s a painfully risky attitude to adopt.

In her signature video, Chief Reinvention Officer Nadya Zhexembayeva says that half a century ago, the life expectancy of a firm in the Fortune 500 was around 75 years. In other words they had 37 years of growth, and 37 years of decline. You could graduate, work your entire career in one place and retire and you would not see any significant change in the status of the company you worked for your entire life.

From the 1990’s that same life cycle had shrunk to just 15 years. Now, many indicators suggest it’s down to seven.

The problem then, is that we creatives live in an echo chamber of SEO skills with diminishing returns and shrinking media budgets but we’re not changing the game, we’re subjected to it.

As a result, we’re actually making it harder for ourselves to stay alive.

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