Epoch-making advertising

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Marazzi’s history through its advertising campaigns. A look back over innovations but above all over changing Zeitgeists and visual communication languages. From the choice of metaphors to the use of images to convey technologies and the construction of aspirational sets.

Looking back over Marazzi’s advertising campaigns means rereading the story not only of the Sassuolo company’s many innovations but also, in broader terms, of ceramic coverings themselves and their use in our daily lives, tracing the evolutions in taste and the languages of visual communications. The company's over 85-year history offers a long sequence of posters and video commercials from the Fifties to the present, which reflect the different, and often experimental, original, approaches to advertising of the artists, photographers and art directors involved.

For example, in the ‘50s, Piero Ottinetti, who had already created famous posters for Pirelli, showed the chips of the 2×2 cm mosaic in the form of a hand, shifting the focus from the object (the mosaic) to the know-how of the people who made it and revealing the potentials of metaphor as opposed to mere realism. The very famous 1975 “Marazzi, sei grande!” (Big Marazzi) advertising campaign made use of a play on words, referring to both the new, large 60×60 cm size and the “greatness” of the company which introduced it. While in this case the figure of a child symbolised a new beginning, the 1980 “Non si fanno mai un graffio” (Never a scratch) campaign used a cat and a dog to trigger an emotional response but also to convey the practical implications of keeping pets. An appealing image that also encapsulated the idea of the materials’ toughness.

The relationship between the image and text of an advertising campaign clearly conveys the Zeitgeist, the spirit of the age and the contemporary approach to words. In the ‘80s, descriptions as long and detailed as modern “advertorials” listed materials’ technical characteristics, care needs and possible uses in strong, assertive tones. With direct appeals to the reader: “Marazzi invites interior designers, architects and stylists to look at furnishings from its point of view,” states the Marazzi Masterker campaign, which appeared in 1985. And using the “tone of voice” of someone issuing a technological challenge – “Marazzi challenges time”, is the claim of the “Enduro, Bello per sempre” (Enduro, everlasting beauty”) campaign from 1986 – or daring to take alternative paths: “They were created at the Crogiolo. This means that they are different from all other ceramics: because at the Crogiolo we have researched new technologies. Imagined new relationships between form and colour. Completely rethought ceramics’ function as furniture. Because at the Crogiolo we have rediscovered ceramics”, as the “Diverse da tutte” (Different from all the rest”) campaign for Marazzi Il Crogiolo affirmed in 1982.

The sky, the desert and rocks are the natural elements at the centre of the advertising campaigns built around colours in the ‘90s, but inverting the usual perspective: the natural element has the same colour as the tile, rather than the tile imitating nature. The company focused on the theme of colour several times: from Marazzi Atomar in 1979 to Colori di Marazzi, the wide colour assortment developed in the ‘80s and expanded in 2001.

In the 2000s, photographer Elliott Erwitt and art director Michael Goettsche created the “Marazzi. Disegniamo il mondo” (Designing the world) campaigns, built around product spokespersons fashion designer Colin Williams, designer Isao Hosoe, restorer Sascha Basovski and architect Saverio Buono. This people-centred approach led to a shift in communication back to a focus on ordinary consumers, reflected in the 2007 campaign “Marazzi, la casa che hai dentro” (Your true home), with a more empathetic engagement with individuals and their needs. This human factor was also to the fore in the “Marazzi. Human Design” campaigns from 2017 to 2020, which concentrated on the familiar warmth of home interiors.

The years from 2000 to 2010 saw the predominance of still life: photographic constructions that emphasised the surfaces themselves and their three-dimensionality, showing aspirational interior designs and images with almost no text. The message is conveyed by the carefully created sets, featuring meticulous colour-matching or contrasting of objects and materials. The 2016 “Marazzi. Il tuo spazio” (Your space) campaign by Andrea Ferrari with art direction by Gianluca Rossi was built around micro/macro: a close-up image expressing all the tactile appeal of the ceramic texture, juxtaposed with its use in a set.