Made in Italy – Branding and Marketing Abroad

Today’s post focuses on a group of University of Kansas students who studied branding and marketing in Rome this summer. Through on-site visits and guest lectures the students were able to gain a better understanding of advertising and communications on a global scale, and learn how culture plays an important role in the international marketplace. Assistant Programs Coordinator Alice Mangia describes a program visit to the leading Italian communication firm, Barabino & Partners.

This Summer, ACCENT Rome hosted a program from University of Kansas’ William Allen School of Journalism & Mass Communications: “Creativity & Culture in Rome”. The program focused on the interplay between culture and creativity and mixed in-class lectures on the ‘Made in Italy’ marketing strategy with on-site visits. The students on the program were all part of The Agency, a student-run strategic communications agency that offers real-world work experience. Made possible by donors who have given $400,000 in support, The Agency provides strategic communications services, including branding, advertising, video production, social media, and multimedia research to departments across the University.

Guided by Professor Janet Rose, the students came to observe and understand how culture plays an important role in brand messaging. In addition to lectures and on site visits, the 3-week program included a series of creative workshops where teams worked to produce a special edition of The Agency’s culture and trends quarterly online publication called “The Watch”.

The students’ visit to the Barabino & Partners firm was a great source of inspiration for them. B&P is the leading Italian firm for communications, design, advertising, and PR which operates in Europe, the US, and Brazil. Set in the B&P offices in the center of Rome, the lecture was an interesting moment of cultural exchange. The students had the opportunity to listen to communications experts Allegra Ardemagni and Agnese Cocucci– both Senior Consultants at B&P– and get a glimpse of the professional world of communications and PR. The speakers were eager to share their experience and interact with the students to initiate conversation and debate. The first part of the lecture introduced to the students B&P’s output and organization: the ‘Made in Italy’ brand is just one piece of the puzzle, as B&P also operates PR for finance and sports, curating every aspect of the brands they help craft.

The guest lecture then focused on the ‘Made in Italy’ brand and how to communicate it effectively. Before starting the lecture the students were tested, tasked with identifying among a range of products which ones were really ‘Made in Italy.’ It was a tricky test that helped introduce the concept of counterfeit products.

Through the lecture, students were able to gain an understanding of how culture inspires and forges creativity, and how it is reflected in the expressions and symbols that each country chooses to represent itself with. Communicating the concept of ‘Made in Italy’ outside the country’s borders means representing not only the company, but also an entire country, its legacy, and values. It also means adapting to the target country, understanding their culture and customs helps tailor the approach.

Research and observation play a crucial role in this process. That is why the B&P offices overseas have Italian and American staff working side by side, constantly interacting and exchanging ideas.

The lecture wrapped up with a series of case studies set in the US that perfectly encapsulated this kind of global approach.

The day came to an end on the balcony of the offices, where the students and lecturers had a chance to chat, enjoy a caffè, snap some pictures, and discuss the possibility of internships at the B&P offices in New York!

~Alice Mangia, ACCENT Rome

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