Tag: Made in Italy


Lost in translation

What does a 9kg metallic disc have to do with the reputation of Made in Italy? 

Yes, it’s a rhetoric question but I’m asking the Internet to take this seriously as I’ve just stumbled across a gaping hole in the quality of communication in one of Italy’s most important industries that is currently going through a profound resurgence, and feel compelled to bring it to everyone’s attention.

It all started as a simple translation of a press release for a prestigious textile manufacturer located on the outskirts of Milan, who this year has its first stand at the 58th edition of the Salone del Mobile, one of the world’s most important international showcases for creativity and a forum for industry professionals, with more than 370,000 attendees on average, every year, from 188 different nations.

That’s a big number and Italy’s reputation for excellence is on permanent display.  

And the flywheel?

According to Merriam-Webster, a flywheel is “a heavy wheel for opposing and moderating by its inertia any fluctuation of speed in the machinery with which it revolves. [It’s also] a similar wheel used for storing kinetic energy (as for motive power).”

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So why is it turning up online as a description on a number of Italy’s finest textile companies’ cushions? 

The answer: Google translate.

There are in principle, two types of cushions: one with a fabric border and one without. For those of you who aren’t in the know, Housewife Pillowcases have a sewn edge, which fits snugly to the pillow, and Oxford Pillowcases have a fabric border around the edge, usually around 5cm.

In Italian, the word for these borders is “Volano” so a pillow with four of them is called “Cuscino a 4 volani”. Put that into Google translate and you have a pillow complete with four metal objects that weighs more than the bed!

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Don’t laugh because Google is full of them and any SEO these companies thought they were rocking is, frankly, inexcusable. 

A thriving industry is being indexed for all the wrong reasons. 

As I tried to resolve this conundrum, I came across a worryingly high number of Italian companies with this error in their description pages and the only possible conclusion is that they all used Google translate and, noticing that their competitors used this terminology, assumed it must be correct.

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This is a social norm I’d like to eliminate. Not the flywheels, but the attention to detail in communication that trips up even the finest Italian companies. 

On behalf of those of us who care about Made in Italy, I urge you not to make this mistake with your international communication – make the effort to research your chosen markets and market yourselves accordingly.


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.

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