Feature

The World's Leading Independent Agencies: Lorenzo Marini group

The co-founder of one of Italy's new networks believes in relationships and responsiveness.

We believe that good ideas make money, although money doesn't necessarily generate good ideas. Many clients don't know this and consider creativity to be a threat to their business. In fact, creativity always works, rewarding both the client and the agency.

You need to be suspicious about unbridled and gratuitous creativity, committed to coming up with brilliant ideas and unexpected associations, to add a touch of freshness to communication. You need to be ready to reject the easiest option and substitute redundancy with ever-changing inventiveness. We love unusual, unpredictable, smart ideas that astonish. But creative work must stem from a concrete strategy.

A brand is like a person, with both merits and faults, and the relationship between consumer and brand is similar to the human bond. A brand can entertain and excite, but also scare or disappoint. Our way of working is based on all forms of communication, from advertising to promotion, and online to direct marketing.

Our approach to communication is tailor-made: first, we understand the essence of the brand through identifying its unique DNA, then we customise the message so it is recognised as being for a specific product or service.

We are passionate craftsmen of advertising, far removed from the standardised and impersonal approach often found in larger agencies. Our haute couture style fits very well with high-class communications. In fact, most of our clients are upscale brands, leading players in their sectors. This is why we delight in thinking of our agency as an exclusive club, which includes Ferretti Group, the leading international designer and manufacturer of luxury motor yachts; Tre Marie, Barilla's brand of pastries; and Alcantara, a company that produces an innovative material that is becoming the choice of renowned architects and designers.

Last spring, the agency celebrated its tenth birthday - a golden opportunity to reflect. Since Daniele Pelissero and I founded Lorenzo Marini & Associati in 1997, I've learnt that there are two key factors for success in such a competitive market dominated by foreign multinationals.

The first is having a clear and well-known position. Besides illustrating to our clients that a brand needs a distinctive identity, we must also remember that companies have to appreciate the worth and attributes of the agency with which they are working. Last year, we won the more accounts without a pitch than any other Italian agency. Relying on our positioning works for us, as is proved by new business wins such as Alcantara, Caractere, Miroglio Group's women's clothing range, and North Sails Cosmetics show.

The second factor is to be finely attuned to the marketplace. Ten years ago, clients asked for traditional advertising, so that a vertical organisation was enough to serve their needs. Nowadays, more companies ask for global and co-ordinated projects. Customised campaigns are gaining importance, viral and guerrilla marketing are developing fast; one-to-many communication is being replaced by one-to-one.

To address the new market requirements, we have created an Italian network of independent agencies to offer clients integrated communication. One of the biggest in Italy, it includes Emme3W, a web agency with strong experience in digital marketing; Menabo, which specialises in below-the-line, packaging and brand imaging; and media agency TailorMedia. Our mission statement remains to become bigger without getting fatter.

We prefer to keep our organisation decentralised, without bureaucracy, allowing direct client involvement at every step of the creative process. This establishes a relationship based on confidence and deep involvement. Client loyalty is imperative for those of us who are independent and cannot rely on foreign budgets. We invest heavily in long-term relationship management, and client satisfaction is the key to our success.

The next step is to get ready for a new consumer. The way in which end users consume commercial messages has changed - they have become more active, aware and involved. They want to have their say and intervene in the creation of communications. Agencies need to be prepared for those who want to be both consumers and producers of content.

New technology has made the rapid and easy content creation of communication possible. Inviting consumers to take part in the production process is a great opportunity for our business. Plus, communication is becoming more visual. Images replace language and become the means of communicating to a global community. Images are more suitable than words to express emotions. Do you remember the websites of old? They were full of words and were didactic, pretending to explain all things. Nowadays, websites are full of striking images.

How do we respond to such changes? We reinvent ourselves continually, without distorting what we are: an Italian agency based in the United States of Europe, idea-centric but with strategy at our core and a depth of experience in top-flight communication. As the German writer Ludwig Borne said: "Nothing is constant but change."

Lorenzo Marini is the chairman of Lorenzo Marini Group.

AT A GLANCE

Name: Lorenzo Marini Group

Founded: 2006

Principals: Lorenzo Marini, chairman; Daniele Pelissero, chief executive; Andrea Massimello, client director, Turin

Staff: 70 - Lorenzo Marini & Associati (20), Emme3W (10), Menabo (35), TailorMedia (5)

Location: Milan, Italy

What's the future for independent agencies? To create a network of agencies to offer integrated communications

How will you be part of it? Last year, we created such a network in Italy.

AT A GLANCE

Name: Lorenzo Marini Group

Founded: 2006

Principals: Lorenzo Marini, chairman; Daniele Pelissero, chief executive; Andrea Massimello, client director, Turin

Staff: 70 - Lorenzo Marini & Associati (20), Emme3W (10), Menabo (35), TailorMedia (5)

Location: Milan, Italy

What's the future for independent agencies? To create a network of agencies to offer integrated communications

How will you be part of it? Last year, we created such a network in Italy.

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