Italian brands

Co-branding: Martini and D&G

Today I want to talk about an interesting example of a product launch video that I've spotted through the Facebook feed of Jean-Gabriel from FreshUp.TV. For branding addicts, its main attraction lies in the fact that it has included several impressively powerful branding techniques in one go: co-branding (or brand partnership), celebrity endorsement and even country branding.

Brand partnership

The product in question is Martini Gold by Dolce & Gabbana that has been co-branded by two iconic Italian brands. Here's an ad that accompanied the product launch:

As I've already written in my article Brand partnerships,

A brand partnership is usually a short or medium-term collaboration between two or more brands in order to enhance each other’s positioning vis-a-vis the target market.

In the case of Martini and Dolce & Gabbana, the co-operation between the two brands has been long-lasting and included such initiative as opening Martini bars within Dolce & Gabbana boutiques in Milan and Shanghai, and even a line of suits by D&G called Martini. The launch of Martini Gold is yet another step that strengthens both brands co-operation even further.

Celebrity endorsement

Italian actress Monica Belucci has starred in the Martini Gold ad acting as a brand ambassador.  In addition to that, the ad has been directed by a famous film and music video director Jonas Åkerlund who himself has a celebrity status.

Country branding

One of the main aims of this video is to evoke the origins, culture and lifestyle of Italy.  Italy is also highlighted by the La Dolce Vita style of the ad, and a mix of Italian style and fashion icons. Monica Belucci embodies Italian cinema, and both Martini and D&G represent refined Italian style. The scenes of Rome highlight the Italian cultural background of the product even further.

For many brands, especially those with a lot of heritage and strong cultural roots, associations with their home countries can enhance the overall brand image and give it a special zing.  Look at how Dolce and Gabbana stress the importance of Martini Gold being a truly Italian brand:

Funky brands from around the world: Italy

Time has come for yet another country-specific list of funky brands. This time around, let's look at what's going on in terms of innovative, desirable and funky brands in Italy. Italians are famous for their sense of style, and innovating through design. ((Roberto Verganti, Innovating Through Design, Harvard Business Review, Dec 01, 2006)) This is why almost all of the brands you'll see here have incorporated superior design as core of their brand strategies.

As in the case of two previous blog posts related to country-specific brands, Spain and Germany, the Italian list is far from being exhaustive.  It's just a beginning, and if you have some more funky brands to add to the Italian list, feel free to do so.

To get a better idea for what criteria to look for, check out what makes a brand funky, and based on that, continue adding more brands in your comments on this blog or SCHMOOZY FOX's Facebook page. Have fun discovering funky brands from Italy!

1) ALESSI

Alessi

I've already written a post about this funky brand, Keeping brands alive through product innovation: Alessi. Alessi specializes in design objects for home interiors.

2) KARTELL

kartell

This brand makes and sells contemporary furniture made of plastic.

3) GAGGIA

gaggiared

Also featured previously on this blog, Gaggia is a brand of espresso coffee machines. Read more about it on Funky brand pick of the week: Gaggia coffee machines.

4) SMEG

smeg

Here comes the brand of kitchen appliances, especially funky retro-looking iconic fridges.

Vespa

5) Vespa a totally funky brand of scooters  manufactured by Piaggio.

Shopping in Istanbul: Italian fashion for Russian tourists

In the last blog post I briefly mentioned about my travel to Istanbul and talked about one potentially funky brand I (kind of) discovered.You can read a more detailed story about my family's travel to Istanbul here. Among others, it also describes our experiences of doing shopping there.

Apart from the Grand Bazaar and Arasta Bazaar, where you can find souvenirs, carpets, spices and other typical stuff (which I bought very little of due to lots of hassling from the sellers and simply because there are many similar items on sale in Turkish districts of Brussels -- at more normal prices), there was one quarter of Istanbul, which left me somewhat puzzled.

img_3859This district is situated to the South of Ordu Caddesi near the Istanbul University, and consists of shops and hotels that accommodate mostly Russian tourists, or so it seemed. Interestingly, most shops had at least one employee able to speak Russian. I was amused that I was always addressed by these people in Russian immediately upon entering shops -- my Slavic features must give away my Rusianness right away!

Here are some of the things I found worth mentioning on my blog:

  • Most of the stores did not sell single items. They looked like regular stores though, there was rarely any close resemblance to warehouses, apart from some exceptions. Some of them had "wholesale" and "optom" (in Russian) written near the entrance, but the majority were unmarked, and we found out that we couldn't buy single items only upon entering the store. Who buys there? Russian shoppers who come to get some stuff for their boutiques?
  • Many shops had Italian-sounding names. "Italiano", "Moda italiana" and similar names were very frequent. It was actually a contrast to my shopping experience in Thailand a couple of years ago, where every shop was openly labelled as being an "Armani", or, more rarely, "Versace". In Istanbul, reference to the Italian style was more subtle.  Some of these stores sold very funky-looking items with "D&G" and "Versace" labels, at very attractive prices. Other items were simply "Italian-looking", with no fake labels attached to them. In most of the cases, shop assistants simply explained that all of the clothes were produced locally, following "Italian fashion principles." Knowing how much Russians have always been fascinated by Italian fashion in particular, I believe these shops cater exactly to the Russians.
  • Although the overall quality was so-so, I found one shop where the stuff looked simply fantastic. Whereas most of the "Italian" stores did not bear the names of the existing Italian brands, this one was actually called Roccobarocco. I know this brand quite well, and love their designs. I also visited a Roccobarocco store on my recent trip to Rome, and was curious to check one out in Istanbul. I was, however, not sure it was real stuff. I have to say that the Istanbul store was designed in the similar way as the Rome one, the logo looked authentic, all of the items seemed to be of great quality, and were definitely Roccobarocco-looking. Prices were not as low as everywhere else in the district, but they were definitely lower than those in Rome. All of the staff in the shop were Russians and Ukrainians. I confessed that I knew the brand very well, and tried to ask what was the story behind the Turkish Roccobarocco shop. If the brand was real, how could they explain the low prices? They told me they had a license to produce these items in Turkey, and were "almost" a Turkish subsidiary of Roccobarocco.

What's authentic and what's not? How to unravel the mystery of Istanbul's "Russian" shopping district? Post a comment!