Article in brief: The author observes how Italian brands contribute to renovating Rome.
A strong heritage and national pride is all it takes for Italian design houses to give back to their beloved Roman city. It’s a matter of luxury groups paying dues to the capital that contributed to their founding or maybe it’s loyalty. A connection to their origins is carefully played out as brands like Bulgari, Tod’s and Fendi have all funded refurbishments for tourist destinations. Although they’ve garnered much attention and received praise for their efforts, do these brands capitalize on such refurbishments?
Late in March it was reported that Bulgari was planning to repair the Spanish Steps which links the Trinita dei Monti church with the Piazza di Spagna. The reason for the steps’ “makeover” is simply because of the jewelry brand’s 130th anniversary. This renovation of the Spanish Steps includes “cleaning the travertine steps, removing plants that have sprung up in cracks, and repairing steps that have been chipped.”
It’s a move towards maintaining an Italian monument; but does exploitation play a role in this involvement? Although there is no fee for visiting the steps, the Bulgari store is just down the street from it which raises the question of their sincerity in the investment. Also, let’s not forget that the Prime Minister was looking for help in funding. Bvlgari is reported to spend 1.5 million euros towards the restoration that will commence in 2015.
Another brand that has undertook a sponsorship for renovation is Tod’s. It is widespread knowledge that the Colosseum is over a thousand years old, being built first during 70-80 AD. An urgent cry for help occurred when news broke that small pieces of the historical site fell which pressed for it to be marked as a red zone for people’s safety. And because the Italian government cut the budget to less than a half (from 2 billion to 1.42 billion), it has led to the cultural sector pleading for help in the private sector.
That was when Tod’s CEO and president Diego Della Valle decided to sponsor the project offering 25 million euros to help repair the Colosseum. In Tod’s situation, the house agreed on the condition of promotion. It was stated that the brand’s logo would be placed on the ticket and not on huge posters hanging from the arena.
As generous as it may seem, publicity was clearly a top priority for Della Valle. First of all, it proves as a great investment to the company since it would attract media attention from the start (the announcement). Second of all, it would be a great opportunity for Tod’s to put its “stamp” on one of Italy’s most celebrated spots. Another important point to note is that Della Valle would be relieved from any taxes in 8 million euros because of this sponsorship.
Another brand that followed suit was Fendi. The Italian house, still managed by the founding family, also expressed their interest in contributing to the reconstruction of the Italian heritage. The repairs amount to 2.12 million euros and are expected to be ready by 2015. Like Tod’s, Fendi will get their fair share of publicity. Unlike Tod’s, Fendi will be able to display their brand signs on the Trevi fountain.
One could say their actions are worthy, several citizens disapprove of these kinds of sponsorships. Carlo Rienzi, head of consumer association Codacons claims: “This is not a sponsorship, it’s a fire sale,” he tells the Euronews reporter, “For a few sets we sell off a private monument that represents Italy, and can be used for advertising and commercial operations”. Others also fear that the true purpose of these asserted finances is simply for their own benefit and not for preserving Italy’s finest pieces.
Although I value sincerity, I think it is important that these historical sites be taken care of. When other companies have ignored the calls of heritage, who else would help fund these certain type of projects? Putting capitalization and exploitation aside, I think it’s great that the Italian luxury companies are taking the liberty of helping their country maintain its famous locations. The way I see it, both sides win.
Reem is a fashion fanatic. She used her talents of critiquing to start a blog called “We Voice Fashion” along with a partner that shares her views on the world of fashion and design. Through her column, she likes to explore fashion in a philosophical way at times.
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