Exclusive Talks with
Pininfarina is a company with great Italian and international traditions. How can tradition be a resource without us becoming shackled to it?
PP: Tradition is certainly a resource, although I maintain that innovation is slightly more important; if we do not think of the future as more important than the past, we don’t move forward in our story; this is what innovation gives us. For example, we have our collection containing some of the most beautiful pieces from our history in Cambiano. About 15 years ago my brother and I discussed expanding collection and my brother saying: “Let's not, we should invest in other things, let's innovate and improve the wind tunnel, otherwise we will become like a museum ...”. This illustrates how innovation comes before history, albeit just a moment before.
We have talked about innovation, which in recent years corresponds to New Media in the world of communications. Roberto, what influence has new media had on your sector?
RP: Well, without doubt the advent of the web and the new frontiers that the Internet has opened have changed the way society interacts, in particular in terms of media. To be honest, the potential of the web was, for some, initially underestimated and there was a reluctance to embrace it. Then, little by little, it became integrated into all forms of communication. Nowadays, the web is the basis of all editorial development. I'll give you an example too: About 10 years ago - in the wake of the success of TripAdvisor - we decided to do something similar in the beauty sector, although we didn’t have anything like the openings to reach a target-audience like we do today. You could print a nice catalogue once a year to illustrate all the products available, but that was about it. Now on our aspect was missing, as it is now for myBeauty Advisor platform, we can constantly feed it and update it, we can compare one product with another and above all we can allow consumers to leave their feedback on products they’ve tested. You can see that here we’ve reached a completely different frontier, with a target of 3 million consumers per year - unthinkable with print media - and with 30,000 products that are regularly updated. Any new editorial evolution cannot ignore online communications – something that’s evident every day.
With our guests we are talking about every aspect of beauty. And I also remember the core-values of Pininfarina, which are purity, innovation and elegance. I’ll ask you both: which of your company’s core-values did you draw inspiration from when you decided to found and take part in Exclusive Brands Torino?
PP: Let's think of the name ‘Exclusive Brands Torino’. ‘Exclusive’ refers to a certain type of excellence: Pininfarina was born as a body shop making luxury and top-of-the-range cars, which meant 'making high quality, haute couture' so Exclusive is certainly there. ‘Brands’ is the construction of a story, the construction of a brand which, among other things, is also linked to the family that changes its surname and so in effect becomes a double brand: because there is the FARINA brand and then there’s PININFARINA. So I would say that the brand is fundamental and a truly important core-value for our company. And it has its roots in ‘Torino’ as Turin is where it all began. Today Pininfarina has become international as it has bases in Germany, the United States and also in China ... but the head of the company is in Italy and there is always a root in our territory here in Turin.
RP: I reiterate what Paolo has just said, starting from the pursuit of excellence. It would be nice if we could film our meetings with a webcam, in order to demonstrate how much of a boost we all give each other in our pursuit of quality, creativity, exclusivity and market conquest: it is a great value that points us all in the direction of excellence . Then there is the leadership awareness of everyone, how they bring it to the network and how we all recognize that quality in each other: this is also a stimulus to creates synergy between us ... And finally, the great passion we have for what we do and for the territory we live in. It is no coincidence that when we present ourselves abroad we present ourselves with the symbol of the Mole, as well as Exclusive Brands Torino.
Roberto has just talked about encouraging each other. How important is the network between companies that’s been created?
PP: The network was founded almost ten years ago as something of a bet: a completely new network between companies that were in no way homogeneous or who did the same type of business or shared the same services. It was not even a supply-chain network, but a network between companies sharing the same common business objectives. It was not easy at first: we looked for synergy where it wasn’t immediately apparent. I must say that over the last 3 - 4 years we have learned that the best form of synergy lies in communication. That’s one of the reasons why I wanted to be with Roberto today, because he is a man of communication; he is one of the founders of the network and the network is really all about communication - of our brands, our excellence, the ‘Made in Italy’ label and Turin, our territory. So through communication projects like our Exclusive Talks we can help create synergy and go on to do great things together. As a matter of fact, I’d say that in recent years the network has definitely made a significant step forward in terms of quality.
We’ll continue to talk about ‘Beauty’ & ‘Synergy’, for which the Italian beauty industry is undisputed world-leader: What would you say this excellence is down to?
RP: When it comes to good taste, refinement, style, research ... Italy is at the forefront: whether we are talking about fashion, design or cosmetics. As a cosmetics industry, our excellence is recognised all over the world, illustrated by a striking fact about our balance of trade, insofar as we export many more cosmetics than we import. Cosmetics contribute €2.8 Billion to Italy’s coffers every year. Besides the number, there is also the everyday reality about the beauty products that women choose every day. Take mascara as an example: I can tell you that in Europe six out of ten women use a mascara that it has been designed, formulated or produced by an Italian brand. And even if the brand is a famous French or American one ... let's not be fooled by appearances; it will almost always be produced for those third parties in Italy.
Let’s talk about the present and what has been one of the biggest problems that Italy has had for years: the flight to other countries of the talented under-30s. Are we destined to become a country of old folk, for old folk?
PP: If we don't do something soon, all the data is telling us that unfortunately we are heading in that direction. We are at a difficult crossroads: we must transform these challenging times into new opportunities. I read Dario Gallina's interview a few days ago and this automotive phrase struck me: ‘it’s as if we were in the Grand Prix behind the safety car, that is, we are slowing down.’ So, we should take advantage of this opportunity to gather ideas and so get back on track faster, while getting some ideas about young people and thinking about the opportunity of the recovery fund will open up for us next year. The guidelines about this fund are defined by the European Commission and are all linked to young people, so it is a great opportunity, since developments in modernisation and digitisation are synonymous with young people, who are defined by the digital world. Matters relating to the environment and sustainability - the Green Deal - are also high on young people’s agenda because they want to live in a better and cleaner world than today’s. I mean, young people want to enter the world of work and they want to grow in society. And the third guideline is the inclusion of young people in the project aimed at relaunching society
Twenty-two editions throughout the world: that’s a number that gives testament to undisputed global leadership. What are the reasons this incredible Italian success story?
RP: Everything starts with quality and the quest for quality. For a magazine, this means image quality, layout quality, content quality, quality in terms of trendsetting and in our case, going international in order to achieve its objective anywhere in the world. Speaking objectively, there is no other way to do this than to penetrate into the various global markets. When I was travelling the world in the 1980s, I was often told that Estetica is like ‘the Vogue of our industry’; it was a good thing to hear, but something that needed fuelling and nurturing daily to ensure that this perception can be upheld in each individual country. For this reason, we have adopted the franchise system of satellite points in other countries, opening in London, then in Frankfurt, Paris, Barcelona and New York – always reproducing the image and likeness of both our structure in Turin and our Italian edition. Having demonstrated that this was the right, and successful, way forward, we sourced licensed editorial partners in various other countries: like Turkey, Russia, Poland, China, Korea, the United Arab Emirates and onwards, until you arrive at what the Estetica Network is today.
It has become the tradition during these Talks that our guests exchange a beautiful gift which ask them to talk about; over to you Paolo…
PP: In our library I found an original issue of the Pininfarina magazine from 1966. The magazine, created throughout the 1960s had ten issues per year. This particular issue is really special because it shows a photo of my grandfather Pinin, founder of the company who passed away in April of that year. This issue, published at the end of that year, also presented all the new automobile features designed, built and showcased in '66. The magazine is also enriched by an extraordinary article, written by none other than Enzo Ferrari to celebrate 16 years of his working friendship with my grandfather, Pininfarina. Here there is a lot of tradition, a lot of history: it is almost sixty years old and I am pleased to give it to you.
RP: My voice may sound excited and my heart is certainly beating fast because I saw it but I didn't realise it was for me: I can tell you that it is a gift that I will cherish. I return I’ll give you the very first issue of Estetica which, for me is very valuable - not for its intrinsic value, though - the cover price was only 150 lire! Without doubt, this too, Paolo, is a representation of the graphic design and Italian style of those times when, a slogan went out across the radio airwaves: 'Italian hairdressers! Finally, a magazine for you and your clients'.
With these gifts from the past which also look towards the future, I thank our two guests once more for their invaluable contributions. Thank you!
Thank you, too.