Italy has only been a unified country for 146 years. For centuries, it consisted of several competing states, which explains why so many of its cities have such unique identities, specialisms and styles. While Milan is, by population, around half the size of Rome, it’s very much the country’s first city for certain industries. It’s arguably the world capital of the fashion industry. It’s also Italy’s financial centre. And when it comes to creativity it dominates. But Roman creativity goes back millennia, so of course the Italian capital retains a key role in the advertising industry too.
The McCann group has an office in each city and has won many awards for their work in both. To get a flavour for how the two offices function, LBB’s Alex Reeves turned to Alessandro Sabini, Chief Creative Officer at McCann Italy.
LBB> How do people in Italy tend to feel about people from Milan and people from Rome?
AS> ‘Milanesi’ and ‘Romani’. These are the correct terms to call them and yes, we have a lot of stereotypes for these two populations. Most of them are true…
Milanesi are faster, Romani are relaxed; Milanesi are cold, Romani are loud; Milanesi are sarcastic, Romani are natural born comedians; Milanesi think about work, Romani think about life. I live in Milan, which nowadays is a more European city and every time I go to Rome I feel like I’m going to Italy. But with all these differences, I think that a Milanese and a Romano are the perfect couple.
LBB> How do the cities themselves of Rome and Milan compare?
AS> Rome is pure beauty: everywhere you look you see it. Walking around the city you are bombarded with so many stimuli that it can even be disturbing.
Milan takes time: the beauty of Milan is hidden inside courtyards, small buildings, galleries, shops and private houses.
Rome is art, Milan is design.
Rome is huge, endless. It is a monument in itself. Milan is a small city and everything is concentrated in few square kilometers.
Rome is Italy. Milan is Europe.
LBB> In terms of the advertising industry, how do the two cities differ? Do they have their own specialisms?
AS> Sure. 80% of our industry is concentrated in Milan, but Rome’s agencies have specific skills. While Milan talks to the Italian industry, Rome talks to the institutions; public companies, government entities, big ONG’s like Red Cross and even the Italian Episcopal Church.
For example, within McCann, we work for clients like Nespresso, L’Oreal and Coca-Cola in Milan, while we work for Poste Italiane and ENAV (the Italian Air Navigation Service) in Rome.
LBB> What are the differences between the McCann Milan and Rome offices? Do stereotypes apply there too?
AS> Despite having different clients, we share the same objectives and the same passions for great work. So there are not big differences between the two of us.
I have a great creative leader in Rome, Alessandro Sciortino, leading a great creative team. This is evident, as both McCann Milan and Rome have been relevant in Cannes for the last three years running as well as sharing the same stage at the Italian Art Directors Club earning a total of 37 awards, including 13 golds.
LBB> Can you think of one recent piece of work from the Milan office and one from the Rome office that represents what each do well? And can you explain why?
AS> For Milan, the creative piece is Responsibly, the beer all the other beers ask you to drink…
It’s a smart campaign for a small beer brand that hacks big beer brands’ communications to become relevant in a very short timeframe. The campaign received three Lions in Cannes and two Silvers at the Clios.
For Rome, our recent work for Poste Italiane was awarded top results in print and photography categories at Art Directors Club Italiano.