Here at The List, we’re curious about the culture of design, so who better to survey about the field’s current state than those currently working at the top of it? In Need to Know, a weekly column, we pick the brains of best-in-class creatives to find out how they got to where they are today—and share an insider perspective on the challenges and highlights of their particular perch in the design world.
As Chief Marketing Officer of Moleskine, Roberto Lobetti Bodoni spends his days strategizing different ways to keep the company—purveyor of paper goods and, more recently, experiences—moving toward its overarching goal of “encouraging the sharing of knowledge and character.” Through Moleskine’s most recent projects (among them, more limited-edition collections and the worldwide launch of Moleskine Cafés) Lobetti Bodoni is reinforcing just that. Surface spoke with Moleskine’s CMO about the intricacies of his role and the brand’s exciting new developments.
What is the day-to-day of your job like?
My job is to encourage and inspire my team to deliver our brand vision and promise in everything we do. Moleskine positions itself as a “journey brand” so we want people to be inspired by the tools and the services we provide. We have this travel [dynamic] of the brand that empowers people to feel creative and enables everyday life on the move. My job is to keep the compass [pointed] in the right way across these departments.
No day is similar to the other—It’s very interesting. I follow a variety of areas within the company as CMO including brand strategy, product marketing, creative content, CRM, and the digital transformation that the company is going through. I never get bored.
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What’s your favorite aspect of the job?
The culture, the diversity; there are eighteen nationalities in my team. I work with a variety of teams across all of the markets that keep me learning different aspects. We continue to learn and grow from the consumers, channels, and clients that we have. It’s really an inspiring job due to its diversity.
How do Moleskine’s limited-edition collaborations come together?
Business-wise, it is an opportunity to embrace a new target that maybe is not familiar with Moleskine but resonates with the brand that we are partnering with. It’s a way to embrace an audience that maybe loves Star Wars or Harry Potter but hasn’t discovered Moleskine yet. Once you are have an iconic brand product, people want to feel a sense of urgency to talk about the brand and products in a fresh way that not everyone knows already. People want really new stories to be engaged with and a limited edition collection is an opportunity to talk about the brand and the products in a newsworthy way.
These collaborations are crucial for us to embrace our creativity and deliver inspiring journeys. We start from the books, and we tell the true story. It’s, of course, also an opportunity to drive traffic to the stores and the website because many people are intrigued by these collections. We have many people that collect all the limited editions that we offer. We have had tremendous success with the limited edition collaborations, especially in Asia. Over 30 percent of products sold in that market come from some sort of limited edition collection.
Is there a dream project for Moleskine which you haven’t done yet?
Oh, many. [Laughs] We are in an early stage with the Moleskine Café concept. We opened a café in Milan, one in Beijing, and another one in Germany. Each has a different formula: one is in a bookstore, one is in a city center, and another one is close to a medical center. The format is clear but we want to perfect it and escalate many cafés around the world. The technique is to provide a space and create a platform where we are able to tell stories and collect stories with our audience, and we’re already encouraging local artists to showcase their proudest creations in the cafes. [It also] delivers different experiences: you can grab a coffee, you can meet with friends or colleagues, or spend time working. So there are plenty of opportunities surrounding this experience.
A long-term dream I have for Moleskine, is after we have made the bridge between analog and digital—so if you go from the paper to digital and you are able to edit digitally. I’d say I’d love to be one of the first to find the complete way around, so from paper to digital and then go back to paper for a complete experience. We have great products in the Moleskine+ category, and we challenge new technology to guide us in coming up with new solutions.
So you would say the cafés provide an experience?
Yes, it’s one of the experiences that delivers our promises in a different way. In the future, I don’t want to see only products from Moleskine. Moleskine has such a good brand identity, it can really deliver services and training programs, or even solutions to be more effective in your job—or we can have a travel agency, maybe. We want to support people in the most inspiring ways and I am very keen on exploring and scouting new opportunities in these areas.
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(Photos: Courtesy Moleskine)