In February 2021, Mauro Porcini (SVP & Chief Design Officer, PepsiCo) joined us live over Zoom to take part in our Insighter Series: weekly conversations between creative professionals and young, aspiring creatives looking to advance.
Hank Richardson (00:00):
Welcome, everybody, to the broadcast today, from wherever you’re coming from around the globe. It’s just exciting to have you here. We have an exciting guest today for you: Mauro Porcini. What I want you to know is he’s one of the most dynamic leaders working today…and really, he’s just a vision of growth. He joined PepsiCo back in 2012 as the first chief design officer. He immediately set out with a context of innovation by design across the entire food and beverage portfolios, and from physical, to visual and virtual expressions of the brand, and the products, and packaging, and events, and retail activations, all the things that you are studying now. Let me put it in perspective for you: He’s overseeing and leading a company by design whose brand value, are you ready for this, is worth over $11 billion.
Hank Richardson (01:06):
What he’s really done, he’s infused design thinking throughout PepsiCo’s culture. By not just embedding, but proving design as a core value and a profitable bottom line achiever throughout the whole company. He believes in a really disciplined approach to innovation and that influences every step of a brand’s platform or the brand itself. This work that he’s done in that short amount of time has earned him top professional and personal recognition. Fortune’s 40 Under 40, Fast Company’s Master of Design, and recognized as one of the 50 most influential designers in America. And not to leave out cultural context, one of the 10 Italians that will change the world, and he was named as one of the 30 best-dressed men by GQ, Italy. That’s a hard task to achieve in Italy.
Often, we don’t talk about love because we’re embarrassed by our personal becoming public. But Mauro imagines, I want to share this with you, he imagines that when you’re in love, you try to do more, you try to surprise, fall in love, and he’s joining us today to put out a signal of love. Take it away.
Mauro Porcini (02:38):
Thank you, Hank, and thanks, everybody. Yes, that’s my definition of designers: People in love with people. You will understand at the end of this speech why I call them in that way. It’s not just a romantic way of calling them. First of all, once again, it’s really a pleasure to be here with you today. Especially because I do really like to talk to people that are at the beginning of a journey that is a wonderful, beautiful journey: the journey of design.
I met, and I meet every day, so many people working in business, in marketing, in science, or the many other functions inside the company and outside of the company. They are like, “Oh my God, your job is so fun, and it’s so cool.” Many people didn’t realize there was a school that could prepare you to become a designer, and that there was a profession like this that they could do.
Mauro Porcini (03:37):
Many people envy what we do and the journey that you’re all about to start…
I have a few slides to share with you today, just because we’re going to talk about design and I want to make this conversation a little bit more tangible with some examples coming from my words. I’m going to share my screen. That’s if the technology is going to help me, share sound, optimize video clip, and share.
Mauro Porcini (04:24):
Anyway, so we live in a world that is changing radically. I think we are extremely lucky as designers, especially you at the beginning of this journey. I was there in the middle, but we are all extremely lucky because we are living in a moment where the entire society and therefore also the business world is changing completely compared to just a few years ago. Today there are many drivers of this change, but there are a couple of things happening that are particularly relevant to our world.
Mauro Porcini (04:59):
First, anybody today can come up with an idea, anybody in the street, anywhere and come up with an idea and get access to funding, to money, to resources in a much easier way than just 20 years ago, for instance. Either you go online to sites like kickstarter.com, for instance, so you crowdfund your idea, or anyway, we live in this age of the start-up. There are so many funds, investment funds that are hunting for ideas, not just in Silicon Valley or New York, but more and more all across America, all across the world from Saudi, to Italy, to many different countries around the world. There is this entity, these organizations, these banks, these funds that are hunting for ideas. It’s easy, once again, today to get the money compared to 20 years ago. Then the cost of manufacturing is going down.
Mauro Porcini (06:43):
The cost of creating stuff is lower than years ago, driven by new technology and globalization. Then you can go straight to people too. I like to call them people, the business world calls them consumers. “Consumer” is a word that I don’t particularly like. You can sell directly to them through the commerce platform.
Mauro Porcini (07:45):
You can go straight to consumers, or users, or people. With eCommerce, you’ll build your ecosystem or communication through social media. Essentially, anybody, anybody, any of you, any of us can go and compete with Pepsi, with PepsiCo, Coca-Cola, Unilever, Procter and Gamble, with the big corporations. This is creating a situation where either you create something extraordinary for people or somebody else finally will be able to do it on your behalf. You cannot protect any form of mediocrity anymore. There is not a chance to protect anything that is not extraordinary. Why? Because we have millions of people out there that are trying to figure out how to take down our products, our brands, and how do they do?
Mauro Porcini (08:37):
Well, they try to understand if there is any frustration of people out there with our products. This is how Airbnb in hospitality, Uber in transportation came about and this is true for any kind of business, any kind of sector. There is this proliferation of new products and it’s all about creating something excellent, extraordinary for these people, for their needs, and for their dreams. It’s enough that you don’t do something. You may have a very good product, but the packaging may be wrong, or the service may be wrong, or the system, or communication, or how you build experiences. The experiences in retail, the experience at an event. Anything. You could have just one area of mediocrity…and that’s where eventually your new competitor will get in. You cannot have the usual barrier to entry that these corporations used to have in the past anymore.
Mauro Porcini (09:33):
In the past, you will have the scale of distribution, the scale of media buying. You’ll have billions of dollars that you spend in media buying when you talk about this kind of company. It was very difficult to compete with these big corporations. Today, you can. There is this proliferation of new brands and new products, and they’re all focused on creating something valuable for people. On top of it, there is something else that is radically changing—the way we build brands and communicate these brands. We’re moving from a world where, once again, these companies were talking top-down with one-way communication to people through the traditional media channel, mostly television-driven, toward where we don’t talk even any more to people. Most of the time, these brands are a big topic of conversation happening amongst people.
Mauro Porcini (10:30):
We’re moving from a world where the more money you had, the more you could buy the right to talk to people. To a world where you need to earn the right to be talked about. Essentially the way these companies do innovation and the way these companies do brand building is changing radically. This is really, really recent. It’s something that is happening right now. They’re all trying to figure out exactly how to do it. How to build brands in a different way, how to drive innovation in a different way. Essentially, once again, we’re entering what I like to call the age of excellence. An age where, either you do something extraordinary from any standpoint, or you will lose. And sooner or later, you will disappear. Now, what is the key of this new age? What do you need to do?
Mauro Porcini (11:19):
You need to focus probably for the first time in history for many companies, for most of the companies, you need to refocus everything on the human being, on people. It’s a new humanistic age. Anybody that works in a company, has been working in a company, and [has] any form of experience with a company will understand the relevance of something like this. Because the reality is that you could drive growth for a company through productivity, investing your brands, playing in the right way with the financial algorithm, or through technologies, technological innovation. Many companies have been growing over the years in this way. Today, they’re all forced. Everybody’s forced to refocus everything on the human being. This is complicated, and this is where the big opportunity for design is.
Mauro Porcini (12:13):
Design, a new way of doing design and the evolved way of doing design. a holistic approach to design, is what this company needs in partnership with the traditional functions, particularly with R&D and marketing. But then we know the functions of the organization is what this company needs to refocus everything on the human being. If you’re a scientist, your career advances when you create technological innovation, when you file a patent, when you succeed in the world of science. This is how your career grows, how you become a famous scientist. They’re by definition, the advocates of technology and science inside these organizations. If you’re in business, your goal is to grow the business from A to B and eventually create famous brands—doing something amazing with the business levers that you have. But literally, the business people are the advocates of brands and business growth inside these corporations. That’s the focus, that’s the priority.
Mauro Porcini (13:18):
If you think about the designers, think about what excites you as a designer. What you can brag about with your friends?
Well, when you create something, it could be a product, packaging, a piece of communication, a service, a solution in general that goes to market and create value in the life of people. Create value because it’s cool. Create value because it’s beautiful. Create value because it’s useful, it’s comfortable. Create confidence, reassurance, safety. It depends on what you are designing, on the product category, on the industry…but in general, what drives our growth as individuals, what makes us happy as professionals, is to create something valuable in the life of people.
Either way or the other: emotionally valuable or functionally valuable.
Mauro Porcini (14:11):
We are, by definition, the advocates of people inside these organizations. In every kind of conversation inside these companies, we’ll always be there trying to defend the human being. Trying to create the most extraordinary product, service, experience, communication for them. This is what drives us. That’s what I call designers: people in love with people. We are the ambassadors of the human being inside these organizations. In the past 20 years, eventually these may even bother these companies because they weren’t driven by creating growth at the lower possible cost, or bottom line or top line growth, market share, financial variables. You would do everything to reach those goals.
Mauro Porcini (14:58):
Today, they are forced to refocus on the human being. They need us designers to build the right culture so that every single effort is extremely focused on that. I’m not saying that they need just the designers, that we are saving the world, that we’re changing the business world. No, no, this is a cross-functional effort. Design is the responsibility of every other function as well. But we play a very important role for what we do as designers, to build the kind of culture so the marketing, R&D, or the other functions will do what they do in a slightly different way. To embrace our approach, our holistic approach to design. When you talk to the business world and you say “design”, often they think about specific disciplines of design. Product design, packaging design, graphic, experience, digital, fashion. I mean, you’re very familiar with all of them.
Mauro Porcini (15:50):
The reality is that we are introducing not just a specific skill and discipline, but we’re also introducing a different way of thinking and working. We call it design thinking. We can call it whatever you want. There [are[ people that love it and people that hate it, but at the end of the day, design thinking is the way of working of the designers. It’s empathy, focusing on people, strategy, understanding what is relevant to the company, to the brand, to the business model, and then prototyping creating stuff, using our skills as designers to prototype. This is key to drive speed, productivity, quality, and confidence within the organization. It’s not just what we do, but it’s how we do it. That ability to manufacture, to create, to prototype, help the organization think and think in a very effective way, in a very efficient way, and very high quality.
Mauro Porcini (16:44):
This is what design is about. And what do we do at the end of the day, we don’t just design products. We design meaning, we design relevance. We design relevant and meaningful experiences for people. This is what we really do. We design solutions that make sense in a way or the other, in a variety of different ways. It all starts with deeply understanding what they need, what they want, and then we create something for them. How do we do that? We could talk for hours about this, and I’m sure this is a topic of conversation for all of you at school, in the past years. This is just one point of view, one fragment of a broader, broader conversation I want to share with you today.
Mauro Porcini (17:31):
Every time we design a product or design a brand (it could be a luxury product, a luxury brand, or it could be a mass-market product or brand), we need to keep in mind three levels of benefits. Three levels of benefits that people search for in those products and those brands.
The first one is the functional one. I buy a drink because I need to refresh myself. I buy a car to move from A to B. I buy a pair of shoes to protect my feet and walk on the streets, functional need. We need to create something that is really functional for people.
The second level of interaction is what I like to call the emotional benefit. Essentially, I buy a product or a brand or the combination of the two, because I love it. I buy Pepsi because I love the brand or I buy Pepsi because I love the color, or I buy Pepsi because I love the color with that specific brand. I buy a pair of Prada shoes, because I love the style, the design, but it’s just about me and the shoes.
Mauro Porcini (18:35):
It’s anything you like. I buy a Harley Davidson because I just love the design of the bike. It’s really about…imagine something you really, really love and you buy that because you love the product. Again, it could be the style of the shoe, or because you love the brand. Prada is the brand I mentioned earlier. Sometimes, most of the times, it’s the combination of the two, but there are many occasions in which you pay for a black shirt eventually because you like the brands, Supreme, Louis Vuitton, Prada, you may pay for the same shirt that you can buy at Uniqlo, or H&M, much more because you love the brand. You particularly love the brand, and you’ll pay for that brand.
Mauro Porcini (19:18):
But once again, this emotional connection is still you and the product of the brand. But then there is another dimension, and that, most of the time, is the reason why you pay that premium with a Supreme, and Louis Vuitton, and Prada. This is what we call the semiotic benefit. Essentially, it’s what that product or that brand is saying about you to the rest of the world. Every time we wear something, or anything that surrounds us: the design of our house, the car we choose, the friends we choose, even the friends we choose, the book we decide to read and obviously a tattoo, or a haircut, anything, anything, and all the products that surround us. Everything is telling a story about us to the rest of the world.
Mauro Porcini (20:11):
Even if we don’t say a word [when] we step in a room: we are telling a story with our body language, with our clothing, with everything. [Every one] of us is telling a story to the rest of the world through a visual kind of language. We are always communicating with what’s around us. The same with a product. Every time we choose something. It’s the Harley Davidson communicating that idea of freedom; it’s a premium watch communicating material status. There is always something that we are communicating through the products that we have and the brands that we own. This is what we do as designers when we say we design relevance and meaning. Well, we need to design the functionality of the product. We need to design that emotional impact of the product and the brand.
Mauro Porcini (21:14):
Then we need to design the story that that product, that that brand is telling to the rest of the world. Now, this is extremely relevant because when you go to the business world, to the marketers you work with (could be your future clients or your future partners). It’s about designing literally these three layers…a very powerful framework to explain the value the design brings to the table, to the business organization. Brand building is all about building brands. How do you do it exactly? Again, a fragment, a point of view (and we could talk in many ways about this) but one approach I’ve been using for many, many years comes from my free interpretation of the theories of a human scientist, Don Norman. Don brought many years ago in the 90s, a book that I read at school that literally changed my life at the beginning of my journey.
Mauro Porcini (22:14):
It was Psychology of Everyday Things. When essentially, Don Norman became somehow the guru of usability in the world (and in the world of design). Then, in 2003, I think, more or less at the beginning of 2000, he wrote Emotional Design. In Emotional Design, he talks about three steps of interaction that any human being has with other human beings, and with other kinds of situations, context, and environments. Once again, I invite you to read the book because it’s really interesting for all of us designers. These are free interpretations of mine, adapted to my world, and blessed by Don, [who] I met 30 years later after I read his book and he became my idol when I was a student in the first year of university.
Mauro Porcini (23:06):
Then he invited me to give a speech in San Diego a few years ago, and I had the opportunity to meet him. The first interaction you have with people, with places is what we call the visceral relation. You see a very interesting man or woman, or landscape. You see the Grand Canyon, the Maldives, and you’re like, “Wow”. It’s the butterfly in your stomach, it’s beyond your rationality. You see something that is so beautiful and powerful that grabs you, literally. You feel the butterflies in your stomach. How can we recreate this through our designs? This is what we always try to do. How can I create something that somehow gives me that kind of emotional reaction? From now on, I’m going to have tons of examples. I will go very fast, but it’s more like the visual track just to give you a feeling of what I’m talking about without pausing too much in each of the examples.
Mauro Porcini (24:08):
This is Adrenaline Rush, our premium energy drink in Russia. This is a collaboration we did with Stacy’s and women entrepreneurs, that we do every year to support the women categories with a variety of different investments—supporting them from a business standpoint. This is 7 Up, vintage edition. It’s never just the product itself, it’s always the entire ecosystem. We never think just about the packaging, we always think about everything that happens around the packaging. It could be licensing. It could be the activation—the experiences that we create around the brand, or the campaign, obviously all the digital experiences. It’s always the full ecosystem that we keep in mind every time we design. Like water, this premium water brand where we have every packaging change every three months—it’s a collaboration with a variety of different artists.
Mauro Porcini (25:23):
Every three months, we choose three different artists, then we give the bottle to the artists as a canvas where they can express themself. Every three months, we identify specific themes, a specific tension that we want to focus on. For instance, one of the collections in the past year was women in arts, or the world of art in digital. Every time there is a specific tension in the art world, we give the artist the possibility to use the package and the bottle as a canvas to express themself. Then we support them in a variety of different ways. Once again, this is the wheel. It’s very small, but it’s the wheel that we use to map all the different areas where design can help and can play a role: communication, experience in retail, events. At 360 degrees, we build an ecosystem of experiences with our brands, always thinking first of all about that visceral reaction. With [that] kind of approach, we created, for instance, Bubly.
Mauro Porcini (26:32):
That was cute. It’s a sparkling water brand with flavor. It’s been extremely, extremely successful for us (without giving you the exact figures), but this is hundreds of millions of dollars on year one. The idea was, the sparkling water category was somehow boring. I mean, there were specific visual cues that were always the same. We decided to come in with something that was creating the visceral effect. That would, you pass in front of the shelf, you’re like, “Wait a second. What is it? This is cute, or this is fun”.
Mauro Porcini (27:12):
Once again, it’s not just the packaging for instance, the top with the color that you see on top of the can, and there is always a message like, “Hi”, “Heyo”, or “Hey”, or something that the can is telling you when you open it. But it’s the entire strategy, communication strategy. The Bubly name for instance, is very close to the name of a very, very famous singer. We signed this singer to become the testimonial of Bubly. This is the first commercial that we did with him, and then we did a few more that you can find online. But this was a very fun one that we did for Super Bowl last year.
Mauro Porcini (28:06):
This is Michael Bublé that was modifying every can with his name. Once again, we have a new one that we just released a few weeks ago, still playing with this theme. Then we started to create all kinds of activations around this idea. This is a limited edition packaging, for instance, that we created with that idea of Bublé modifying the can. This is the visceral reaction [inaudible 00:28:33] limited edition packaging. Packaging that stays on shelf, experiences of any kind. We try to create that emotional, powerful reaction. The second relation is what we call the interactive relation. Essentially, in the analogy of Norman with this interesting man or woman, you like them and then you go out with them, and you stay with them and it’s both emotional, is your heart and then is your rationality, is your mind, you reflect on what’s going on.
Mauro Porcini (29:00):
It’s the endless tension or dialogue between heart and mind functionality and emotions. It’s really about that balance, it’s you are on vacation in this beautiful place on the Caribbean. You love to be there emotionally, but you’re also thinking about your colleagues back in my case, in New York, and [inaudible 00:29:21], and you are even more happy of being in the Caribbean in the moment. Rational and emotion always play together, and sometimes they fight with each other. They’re intention sometimes you find the right balance. This is history of humanity, of philosophy, or literature is who we are, but it’s also one of the biggest tensions that we need to face. One of the biggest challenges that we need to face as designers, every time we are there to create something that is beautiful, it’s amazing, it’s engaging, but it needs to be also user-friendly, functional, understandable.
Mauro Porcini (29:55):
That balance is key. If you don’t find the right balance, there is not an absolute right balance. It’s the right balance for the target audience, for the person you’re designing for. First, you need to understand the person. Then you’ll find the right balance, and if you don’t find it, you fail. This is, for instance, one of the very first projects I worked on: a dispenser of drinks. It’s a fountain where there is an interface that is like an iPad, then you select your drink. It could be a Pepsi, or a Dew, or a tea, and then you add flavors and you customize your drink. Then the challenge was literally the one of having something really engaging from a distance. You pass in front of it, few meters away, and you stop and you want to use it, and with that interface, we could send all kind of messages.
Mauro Porcini (30:45):
We could have a celebrity showing up on the screen, or we could play games. We could do anything we want to with the screen. Then you got closer, and then you need to move fast. Our customers want people to select a drink and get out of their way, but even the people in line want the same thing. You need a very user-friendly experience. It needs to be fun, but it needs to be fast as well. That fine balance was the challenge. This is an example of a product, one of the very first ones we designed, and has been extremely successful. Over the years, we created multiple products, fountains, coolers, dispensers of any kind with that kind of approach.
Mauro Porcini (31:30):
One of the latest one, and it’s one of my favorite projects in PepsiCo is this one. We call it SodaStream Professional. It essentially is a machine, once again, with a screen that recognizes your bottles. You arrive with your reusable bottle, with a QR code on the bottle, the machine has a screen and a camera, recognize your bottle or your app, so you can do the same with an app. By recognizing the bottle, recognize you and your preferences, the machine gives you the possibility to customize your drink, starting from water, you can add gas. You can make it sparkling, and there are different gradients, so you can decide you want to have it really, really sparkling or lightly sparkling. The temperature and the flavors, so you could come up with sparkling water with a hint of lemon, or you can make it really like a soda. You can dose the amount of flavor.
Mauro Porcini (32:31):
Then in few months, we’ll come up also with functional ingredients. That is really what I love the most. Vitamins, and a variety of different other function ingredients, we cannot disclose right away, but essentially it will be a machine that customizes the drink for you: both emotionally (what you love), but also functionally with a variety of different functionalities. It’s a step towards the future that there’s going to be a future where we’ll wake up in the morning, we go to our kitchens, and there will be a refrigerator that knows what we need and what we want. What we need, because maybe through our iWatch or simply through a patch, through a bandaid, we are monitoring our body. Our refrigerator knows what it needs to create for us, and then [it] knows us, our pace, and our preferences already.
Mauro Porcini (33:33):
This is the future, but what you see here is a step in that direction. Then what I really, really love is a step in the direction of sustainability. That is a big, big focus for us. This is one of the multiple projects in that direction. Totally sustainable is water that comes from the tap together with SodaStream, then you can have at home. Then it’s a bottle that you reuse, and once again is one of the many projects that we have that are going in that direction. These pictures show, for instance, our team pre-COVID, before COVID, we are almost completely plastic-free in Pepsi, in our PepsiCo Design Center, and we use reusable bottles with these kind of machines every time.
Mauro Porcini (34:19):
The future of equipment is something we are investigating in so many different ways. This is, for instance, a cooler that you can control. We can call, or you can call with an app. Actually, one of the first experiments was in a college. So you can order your food and your drink with an app, and then you have these coolers, they move all around the campus. But we are thinking, once again, about that perfect integration between emotion and functionality in a variety of different ways, for instance, in the world of dispensers, or another project that I really, really love is Gatorade Gx. I talk to you, I just referenced this idea of the patch, something you put on your skin. I have a video that is going to tell you the story, but essentially this is something we have been working on, thinking about what could be a customizable Gatorade experience.
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Mauro Porcini (36:25):
This is something, for instance, available to athletes today. We have been working on this with Serena Williams, with Usain Bolt, with the national soccer team of Brazil, and a variety of others. Then we launched last year Gatorade, the bottle with the pods, without the technology yet, but mostly to get the athletes used to this idea of filling your sustainable bottle with water, and then using the pods and customizing different pods on the basis of your needs. But the future, once again, is a future of customization. In our world of food and beverage, you’re seeing these already in the world of sport, and in so many different kinds of categories and industries. If you want to build your start-up in the future, think about this idea of customizing something for people in an industry where there is not yet the customization.
Mauro Porcini (37:21):
It’s something that probably is going to be, it’s going to have chances of success. Or this is another example: a Keto snack that we launched last year with a start-up kind of approach, moving very, very fast using just the eCommerce channel. We have an entire team that focuses on what we call “quick cycle innovation”, moving literally within a corporation…but like a start-up: coming up with different kind of products and ideas. We have a few more that we’re about to launch in the coming months. Then the first step, we say, the first one is the visceral one. You get excited about something. The second one is when you start to use both your emotion and your rationality. The third one is, back in the analogy of the Norman, when after you have been dating or going out with this man or this woman, you go back and you’re really excited. You talk about them to your family, to your friends, you are back from your vacation, so you show the pictures of your trip to everybody in your social media.
Mauro Porcini (38:28):
It’s what we call the expressive relation. You love so much what happened to you, the experience you have, including your experience with products and brands that you become the ambassadors of that experience. You want to talk to everybody about the brand, or the product. It could be because of a special edition packaging. This is a can we designed for the Super Bowl two years ago. Then we, just for influencers, we post[ed] it online…and it’s been the post with the most impressions in the history of social media of Pepsi. Now, in social media, as you can imagine, there is so much content, there is video, there is all kind of things that we build with agencies and we spend a lot of money to do it. This was just a humble piece of packaging that we just took a photo of…we put it online, and it’s been extremely, extremely successful.
Mauro Porcini (39:23):
This is a wonderful example of how every touchpoint of the brand, including the packaging, is becoming (in the world of social media today) potential content. That’s what is elevating the role of the designers in the conversation. There was a past where marketers [were] working with the creatives of the big marketing agencies to build the Super Bowl ad. Today a packaging like this can get more impressions [than] the Super Bowl ad itself. Every touchpoint that we design [has] a role today that is so much more important for a company, for a brand, for an organization than in the past. For the design functions, if they’re understood, if they’re valued in the right way, they can create so much value. And they’re so [much] more relevant inside organizations than in the past.
Mauro Porcini (40:16):
It’s packaging-driven; it’s communication-driven. This is something we did at the very beginning of my journey about eight years ago [during the Soccer World Cup]. We were sponsoring a series of athletes like Leo Messi, for instance. We ask a renowned photographer, Danny Clinch, to take black and white pictures, portraits of all these athletes, and then in a live event in London, we had three artists from the different countries of the different athletes painting all the photography and even that became content. The event was streamed and everything, and then that became our campaign. Then we took all the art and we started to create a series of products.
Mauro Porcini (41:01):
Then what I do with the products, it was all about creating conversations. Exciting people, it’s not about selling the product. We did sell the products, and we made money, so it was an investment in communication with a clear ROI. We totally invested, we made money, we communicated for free, but it was not about the numbers, obviously.
Mauro Porcini (41:31):
We have so many brands that are above the billion dollar. We didn’t care about the revenue of that. It was all about brand building, and creating communication. That has been successful, and more and more, we are investing in licensing with a variety of different collaborations, from Pepsi and Puma, this is the square again with Pepsi last year with a variety of different products has been extremely successful for us. This is the Air Jordan brand with Gatorade. We go from this square, a sweater was $850, all the way to Forever 21, and Cheetos, where a sweater is, I don’t remember the price, but probably $50, or less.
Mauro Porcini (42:16):
The full spectrum across the brands is not just fashion. This is, for instance, an activation we did in Brazil, in Sao Paulo. Recreating the house of Chester Cheetah, the mascot, the character of the Cheetos. We imagine that Chester left his mansion open, and you could visit the mansion for a few weeks. It was a pop-up experience in Sao Paulo. It was not just about Sao Paulo. 20 years ago, it would have been an experience in Sao Paulo. These went viral online, and so it’s not just about the thing you do in the specific location, but it’s the power that, that specific thing has, if it’s done in the right way, become something relevant at global level, share at a global level through social media.
Mauro Porcini (43:01):
This is true in so many different ways. This is an installation we do every year, for instance in Disney Shanghai, these are two different years and this is the third one, the [inaudible 00:43:11], by the way, was this summer in Shanghai. In the same way, we have been working on so many different kinds of experiences. Totally design-driven, often completely invented, imagined, and proposed by design to the rest of the organization. Chipperies, so places where you can enjoy the chips, like a gourmet food that you can find, for instance, in airports or The Tea House. [For] The Tea House we did multiple pop-up stores, for instance, in New York City during the summer—where you enjoy different cocktails based on teas and a variety of other experiences.
Mauro Porcini (43:51):
I’m going to close this range of examples with something that we really love, and it was at the beginning of the journey, a couple of years after we started. I had somebody in my team that really loves Back to the Future, the trilogy. Then, in 2015, there [was] the anniversary of Back to the Future 2. In 2013, we started to work on what we could do for that anniversary. There was a Pepsi presence in the movie you may remember…or not remember.
Mauro Porcini (44:41):
This is what Marty McFly was finding in his future, the Pepsi Perfect. We designed, and it was totally, totally driven by the design team. We designed Pepsi Perfect. The 21st of October, of 2015, at 04:29 AM, we dropped it on Amazon online by surprise. We leaked some information, so there were the fans in line ready to buy it. We sold out the Pepsi Perfect in few seconds. We had the revolution of the fans that wanted to have it, and they eventually didn’t get it, so we had to run a second production and we created a series of licensing products, hats, and shirts, and we sold more licensing in a week with Pepsi Perfect than in the entire year with Pepsi. Big, big success. Totally design-driven.
Mauro Porcini (45:31):
Still, today you can go online and you can find Pepsi Perfect for $300, $400. The picture on the right is the one I prefer, I like the most. The bottle without even the cola inside for $99. Talking about the importance of design when you create something that somehow connects with people in [one form or another] and how powerful it can be.
Just to summarize, we talked about visceral interactive and expressive. Something we keep in mind every time we design. If you have the visceral effect, if you create designs that really WOW people, they are going to, what we call the emotional impulse purchase. People in a store, passing in front of the aisle with the list of things to buy…and then they see your product like, “Oh, my God. I love it”, and they grab it and they take it home.
Mauro Porcini (46:23):
In the interactive one, you’re going to create emotional satisfaction and loyalty. It’s the line of people out of an Apple store to buy the latest iWatch, even if they never saw the model live before, just because they emotionally trust the brand. It’s that kind of loyalty no matter what that you want to create. The expressing one is communication and spontaneous PR. Transforming people into your ambassadors. The ambassadors of your brands. It’s about purchasing, repurchasing, recommending. These are keywords for the business world. Talking about the value of design. If you go backdoor to our world of design, the user perspective is about creating the wow effect. You want the wow effect. You need to create emotional and rational engagement, and finally you want to create pride in the people you design for when they get associated with your brand or your experience.
Mauro Porcini (47:21):
More and more, you want to move from the bottom of the pyramid, all the way to the top. You want to keep products that are reliable, usable, functional. It’s about utilitarian needs. It’s when a product like Pepsi, for instance, competes with another cola because of the formulation, carbonation level, flavors, and so and so forth. Then you go up, is what we call the demand space, the context of use. You want to create experiences that are convenient, rational, and pleasurable, emotional. This is when Pepsi start to compete with other categories of drinks to create that kind of experience. I may drink a Pepsi at a diner, or I may drink a glass of wine, or a water, or a juice, or something else.
Mauro Porcini (48:06):
Then you go out to the world of dreams and meaning. We call it the world of the purposeful brands. Normally brands get all the way there, and this where your brand stands for something in the society that transcends the product itself. It’s when Pepsi eventually starts to compete with Apple, with Nike, with brands that stand for something in the world. Today, more than ever, we need to walk in all the different dimensions. Design every touchpoint of every single brand, starting with a product, to create products that are utilitarian, that are functional, that are pleasurable and convenient, and that make you dream. I’m going to close here. Thank you.