Hi. We are here today with Tomaso Galli. Tomaso is one of the most reputable managers in the fashion and luxury industries. And to me, he is definitely the best as far as communication is concerned. He's gained a long-standing experience working for major leading brands. As corporate communication director at Gucci group, as communications director in Prada and then a strategic adviser for many companies from Versace to Vertù from Lancel to Armani. He is definitely the right person to elaborate on what the activities of a communication department are as far as the brand and the corporate areas are concernd. Tomaso, to make it simple, who works in a communication office? Well, first off all, Erica, thank you so much for the introduction. I have indeed worked 15 years in the communications business in fashion. My previous 15 years in communication, in non-fashion. And the first point I want to make is that fashion is a hugely exciting industry. It has incredible opportunities. It gives the possibility to connect with different worlds outside of the industry. It gives you the possibility to work with the arts, architecture, and sports fields; With a lot of talented people that don’t necessarily work in the design or production of beautiful garments and beautiful ready-to-wear, shoes, and bags. Going back to your question, I have started in corporate communications at the Gucci Group, then I was in charge of brand communication at Prada, two completely different jobs, both of them interesting. When I was working with Gucci, I thought that is was the most interesting job in communication. When I was doing Prada, I thought that was the most exciting one. Both of them have a lot of advantages and few disadvantages. Okay, so speaking about corporate communication, what does it mean? Which were your tasks and or responsibilities and your reference in the company? Were you speaking with the creative director or rather with the CEO of the company? In corporate communication, it tends to speak a lot more with the business side. So obviously, the CEO, the Chief Financial Officer. The people in charge of the business. The people who are in charge of selling the beautiful products that are designed and developed by the design team. The main objective is to make sure that the reputation of the company is consistent, is aligned, is in line with what the company really is. My job at Gucci for example was to make sure that the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times, Les Ecoles, Corriere della Sera and so on and so forth, knew what the company was doing, what the strategy was. If we were profitable enough, where we were making money. If we were making the right investments, and so on and so forth. We were interested in making sure that people inside the company knew they were working for the best in the industry. We wanted to make sure that people in the investment community thought that Gucci was a great investment. We wanted to make sure that our partners and suppliers understood that doing business with Gucci was good. We wanted to make sure that the local communities in which we operated. In that case Florence for example, looked at us as a good corporate citizen. This was the main mission. The tools, of course, relations with the media, production of corporate tools from the corporate side of the website, to brochures and books, speaking engagements for the CEO. The tools are consistent from industry to industry. What really changes is the content of what you're communicating. The way that you use the tools. The moments that you choose to use certain tools when you do an interview, with whom you do the interview. What are you communicating through the interview? That changes from company to company. The content changes but the tools are the same in many different industries. If I understood well, it is about external and internal communication, at the same time you need to understand the language of numbers. But also topics such as corporate social responsibility. How a company behaves with people and the territory where it is. Though you were not actually responsible for the fashion shows, so creativity was managed by other people. Coming to this who takes care of events and activities that are generally related to the brand? That was definitely not part of my remit at the Gucci group. That is what I focused on 120% of my time when I was at Prada. Which is by the way a fantastic company. The head of communication in a fashion company and I'm not just talking about Prada this is true of any company. Is not in charge of creating, is not in charge of the creativity behind a fashion show, behind an advertising campaign, behind the image and the graphics of the website. The head of communication is the person who has to make sure that there is a communication strategy which is consistent with what the company wants to achieve, both in terms of business and in terms of image. An advertising campaign has to be consistent with the brand's DNA, with what the creative director wants to communicate, but also has to enable the company to sell its product. It has to reach the potential customers in all the countries and territories in which the brand does business. My role was not to produce the fashion show, in the sense of the clothes that were going on the catwalk. My role was not to select the models. My role was not to say which music would have been appropriate; but it was indeed to make sure that all these elements would come together at the right time in the right way with the right budget to support the creative director's vision. To some people it might seem that this is not a creative job. To me it is indeed extremely creative because you have to find creative solutions to problems and issues that you have every day. Understand that in a fashion company the creative director is the one who gives the direction, who has the vision and gives the vision, and then as a communicator you have to execute on that vision. This is a very important difference as compared to other industries because what you are saying is that you are not working with an advertising agency suggesting the creativity. But a designer was taking care of this together with some professionals. Could you elaborate on this a little bit more explaining why for example Prada or other companies similar to Prada, do not work with advertising agencies, but they prefer, rather, to work with stylists, directors, photographers, and/or external professionals? I have tried to work a few agencies in the past, and I have to say despite the fact that they are extremely professional and very creative. They are normally outsiders to the fashion industry and the fashion industry requires very specific professional skills. This is why no fashion company that I know of utilizes agencies for their advertising campaigns. Typically, there are external art directors who help the creative director decide the mood of a campaign, Decide how to do the campaign, selecting the best photographers, selecting the best models or actresses or actors, if these are good to support a certain vision. But it is important to have people who live and breathe fashion 365 days a year. So that's why, you can't use an agency that, you know, goes from, frozen foods to cars, and then on to fashion. You really need to be an insider, you need to be inside of fashion, 100 percent, 1000 percent. You need an incredible understanding and commitment to the industry. So typically what happens is that there is a brainstorming session with the Creative Director and the Art Director. Looking at mood boards for example, looking at what kind of people would represent the message that the Creative Director has in mind. How to do it. How to organize the shooting. Which photographer can really understand the way to interpret the story. It is storytelling. It is storytelling at its best. Actually, storytelling is very contemporary word. It’s what everybody's talking about now. Fashion has been in the business of telling stories, since the beginning. We need people who understand this. In the brainstorming session you tend to decide, whether the shooting has to be done in a studio or at a location. If you want one model or if you want four. How to go about all the creative choices. Then my role as a communicator was not to say, again, who should be the face of the brand at a given time, but it was to make sure that the shooting would happen on time and on budget and consistent with other communications tools that we were thinking about in other areas. From the web to the catalogs to events, across all the different spectrum of the tools that you use in fashion. which, as I was saying before, are the same that you use in other industries, but they are completely different in the execution in the way that they are done, compared to other industries. So far we've mainly spoken about creativity. However, there are also other activities that are very important like media planning and the world of public relations. How does public relations differ in fashion’s case compared to other industries? Again, it is completely different. Just to give you an example, think about a fashion show. When you have to seat the press for a fashion show, it is as complicated as when you plan your own wedding. There is a language that you need to understand. There is a hierarchy. There is a specific way in which you seat people at the press. This is what the fashion press office has to do. Then the fashion press office is to make sure that the collection that you see on the catwalk is reproduced in time and on budget again, and goes to the press, so that the press can shoot it. And you know you can go and buy your beautiful Vogues around the world and your Elles and your Glamours and maybe the niche in trend publication such as i-D and AnOther, AnOther Man and whatever. You do find those beautiful dresses in the publications at the right time in the right issues; Which is a very complicated job, because you have to understand, “Okay, I have the opportunity to be in three magazines at the same time.” “Which one do I choose?” “How do I make sure that I am in the right books at the right time with the product that is going to be in the stores?” “In Japan or in New York or in Milan or in South Africa.” So all of that requires a lot of strategic planning and logistics and organizational skills. Actually, one interesting point, Erica, is that this job puts together creativity, it puts together managerial skills, it puts together the ability to understand a bit about numbers. The ability to understand a brand's DNA, but also the business of what you need to sell. So even if it is not as creative in the sense that we were discussing before, in the sense of doing the campaign yourself or doing the clothes, but it is a fantastic job. What about the importance of relationships? Since fashion is a lot about celebrity endorsements and fashion bloggers, how is this part of the job a communication manager and how do you create really strong partnerships with such important people? Relationships as in every other business are key. I think a very important point to remember is that relationships themselves are not enough. They shouldn't think that going to lunch or to have an aperitivo in Milan with a great editor. Is enough to secure the right coverage. You shouldn't think that becoming friends with a celebrity is enough to make it to the red carpet. You have to have the right content, which in the case of a journalist is the right addresses or the right information for an interview. In the case of a celebrity it’s what is going to make her or him look beautiful on the red carpet. You need to have the right stuff to get that. It is the combination of these which works. A relationship on it's own is not going to lead you anywhere. So content is king; as it is in the product as well as in what you communicate. Lastly speaking about digital media, how do you see the evolution as far as fashion companies are concerned and doubt they can catch with this constant and very difficult change in the media landscape? I think digital is the future. I have been doing, if I look at my schedule, for example, five years go, I would have devoted digital 5% of my time. Now, it's probably 40% of my time. So digital is actually growing in its importance dramatically and it will continue to grow. Digital is also the wild west. We don't know where we're going yet. Things are changing on a daily basis. Whoever tells you he or she knows everything about digital is either lying or doesn't know what he or she is talking about. Things are changing every single day. As you said, content is king. It’s really paramount to develop and produce the right content that is relevant, that is engaging, that is fun. Appropriate to the brand for which you are producing it. People are understanding that e-commerce is probably not what they thought it would be five years ago. Probably it’s going to be a little bit less of a great business but it is the main window the brand has on a global scale and managing that properly is paramount to anybody. I think digital is, probably at the moment, The most interesting area in which I would suggest young people to invest their time for a career. There is a lot that still has to be written in the digital book. A lot more probably than other areas in which Still I believe there are ways to innovate every single day, but that are more traditional tools. If I have to say my main advice to young people coming into fashion, which I think is a very promising industry, is be Able to set your mind on constant change. Set your mind on constant innovation. Set your mind on contamination partnerships as I was saying before. You know, you can work with artists. You can work with sports people. You can work with architects. You can work with photographers. You can work with a lot of people who come from different industries. If you are not prepared to be contaminated and to change your mindset every day then probably this industry is not for you. Thank you, Tomaso. I definitely learned a lot from you and so I'm sure did all the people that watch this video. It was a very fascinating journey into the secrets of communication in the fashion industry. Thank you Erica. It was a great pleasure talking to you. And digitally to all of you. Ciao! Ciao!