A new path towards EVOO and Communication at Olio Officina Festival

A new path towards EVOO and Communication at Olio Officina Festival

2019/11/01 - The historic Palazzo delle Stelline in Milan will host from January 31 to February 2 a new edition of Olio Officina Festival, the event created by the writer and oleologist Luigi Caricato that revolves around the affirmation of the extra virgin olive oil culture. Under the motto "Nostra Signora Pubblicità", the eighth edition of this festival will feature an extensive program of activities: workshops, dialogues and round tables, interviews, tastings, showcooking, short tasting courses for newbies, art exhibitions, screenings, performances and even a literary café where book presentations will be taking place. In an interview with Mercacei, Luigi Caricato delves into the central theme of the next edition and the essence that characterizes this unique festival.

The motto of the next edition is "Nostra Signora Pubblicità". What were the reasons for choosing this topic?
Advertising has always fascinated me. It is the apotheosis of creativity for commercial purposes. We need a great genius to be effective and achieve our goals. It is very difficult to guess a communication strategy. The oil obtained from olives -despite being a food that is associated with something natural which is good for our health, and is rich in varied aromas and flavors- is not emergent and is difficult to understand. Olive companies tend to promote it in an obsolete way, associating it with tradition, family and authenticity. It's a mistake. The image needs to be modern. Although the product is ancient, even millennial, today's EVOO cannot compare to yesterday's. It is a different, better product that is used in a unique way and it is the result of a technology that has perfected it. The extra virgin of today is more versatile in its use in raw and in the kitchen; and its useful life is also different, more extensive. All this has not been said and we must start from here.

What is your approach in the field of communication towards consumers?
Mine is an extremely positive approach. We need to identify the elements that fascinate and attract them the most in order to develop the emotional focus with the product. This doesn't imply a hedonistic vision that is an end in itself, but we must focus on creating curiosity, wonder, desire for fulfillment. However, the consumer takes refuge in habits and accepts everything. If there is no awareness, no consumer will buy an EVOO focusing on its quality. The consumer has the perception that all olive oils are the same and that's why the cheapest one always win the battle. Instead, we need to conceive a new way of communicating with this consumer. If the consumer does not understand the quality and its different facets, the sensory differences and the many nuances of EVOO, he is not the one to blame. The responsibility is on the side of those companies that haven't been able to share this knowledge. We are wrong to focus on a communication directed to commercial results. We must try to provide a true and authentic knowledge of the product. Many years of marketing may be effective towards globa sales, but without cultural content, marketing means empty shelves.

Why do you think there has been so little progress in communicating EVOO to consumers?
Progress has been considerable compared to the past, but if the comparison is made with other commercial products, I must say that very little has been done. Sincerely, so many words were spoken -in many aspects also interesting- but without creating a strong collective conscience. Sadly, the best results have been obtained in countries that previously ignored this product.

Why do you consider that there still a great lack of knowledge on the side of the consumer despite being Italy and Spain producing and consuming countries?
Italy and Spain have a great responsibility in this lack of knowledge. They have never worked together on a common and shared project. Some initiatives exist, I must say, but I consider them epidermal initiatives that do not affect the social fabric. Even nowadays it is difficult to make mass media understand that EVOO is a very valuable food. A graphic example: olive oil never appears on the cultural pages of a newspaper. Even on TV or radio you always listen to the same stories about this product. A lot of useless information, but never of a deep knowledge. Every year we address the issue of olive oil with a careless attitude: how much oil is produced, whether it is good or bad, which is the best producer or how should we read the label... It never goes deeper. It is not considered a cultural marker, but only a commodity like many others, without deserving its fair consideration.

Speaking about Olio Officina Festival, what will be the thematic blocks and the most relevant aspects of this edition?
We have invested in something that nobody considered before: inventing a new path. We will present some of our videos made in collaboration with the Milan Communication Academy, which has created very imaginative advertising posters. We will present EVOO transformed into comics, in collaboration with the International Academy of Comics of Turin, experimenting with new languages ​​and styles. Mine is the commitment of a solitary individual inmersed in a rigid sector that does not want to move forward because it fears the unknown, the future. I am grateful to those who follow me, of course, but I feel very alone on this trip. Most operators in the sector prefer to stay still and think about earning more, but leave no space to follow new paths. I will also present a unique project for restaurants: the experiential EVOO, the entertainment EVOO. Good ideas are not lacking!

What experts will participate this time?
Especially publicists who will analyze the past, the present and the future of advertising and communication. This is not an easy task because the sector invests very little in advertising, but I hope this experts will help us understand how to move effectively. We will also focus on visual design and packaging, with professionals that have experienced new paths, also addressing the luxury segment, which is very neglected by companies.

In addition, l'Indagine Olio Officina/Amagi ForSurvey will be presented. What is this survey about?
Olio Officina, in collaboration with the research company Amagi-ForSurvey, has developed a study to document the opinions, uses, habits and tastes on different brands of extra virgin olive oil. In this sense, a representative sample of 1,200 families settled in Milan received a set of 250 ml. EVOO containers and consumed it in their respective homes. All the members of the family expressed their opinions, evaluations and preferences of each of the brands, on which they made a complete consumption experience that was monitored by Amagi ForSurvey. The evaluations of each family were reported to an official panel of tasters, led by the international Chemiservice Laboratory in Monopoli (Puglia), in order to compare them with those of the experts. The final diagnosis of the market -based on a unique and original technique- was shared with the first six brands that participated in the study. The objective? To encourage production companies to develop high-quality EVOOs that are appreciated by the consumer.

What new features would you highlight in the next edition of Olio Officina Festival?
The main novelty, which is the basis of all editions of the festival, is that the olive sector will once again become the protagonist of the scene and we will invests in new ideas, in new ways to explore. I believe the golden moment for the big oil brands was at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. Subsequently, another happy period was after the Second World War. Now we are craving for a new wave of novelty, returning to play and overcome the fear of new things. This is the spirit that characterizes us and were we would like to guide all operators in the sector.

How has this festival evolved in its eight editions?
Olio Officina Festival is growing gradually and we are looking forward celebrating its ninth edition, in 2020, after we end this one in 2019. I believe the big surprise will take place in 2021, with its tenth edition, in which we have been working for years. My greatest sadness -beyond the sensitivity of Mercacei, always present since the first edition- is the fact that Spain does not actively collaborate in this great event. My dream would be to wellcome more Spanish companies in the festival, but obviously they are afraid to appear in Italy. I am very sorry for this circumstance and I feel a little disappointed.

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