“When Francesco Piccolo jots down a thought or a cleverly turned phrase into his black Moleskine notebook, the Italian novelist feels steeped in a literary tradition built by such celebrated scribes as Ernest Hemingway and Bruce Chatwin.
“There is a sense of pleasure knowing they used the notebook,” Piccolo said. “It’s like a thread that ties you to those writers.”
But some critics wonder if the fashionable and financially successful notebooks are trafficking more in legend than legacy.
While both artists and the artsy have sought notebooks with covers made from moleskin for more than a century, the brand Moleskine was officially registered only in 1996, long after the ink stopped flowing from the pens of its unsuspecting pitchmen.
Yet Modo & Modo, the Milan-based company that has reissued the unassuming black agendas, diaries and journals, has no qualms claiming that it is “The Legendary Notebook of Hemingway, Picasso and Chatwin.”
“It’s an exaggeration,” conceded Francesco Franceschi, who runs Modo & Modo’s marketing department. “It’s marketing, not science. It’s not the absolute truth.”
Though more figurative than literal, that marketing campaign, which Piccolo dubbed “the commercialization of the Moleskine myth,” has nevertheless proved effective. Modo & Modo produced nearly three million Moleskine notebooks last year, up from 30,000 made in the first edition in 1998.
Despite increasingly saturated markets in the United States, Germany, Italy and Great Britain, sales are still climbing. Moleskine generated about €30 million, or $37 million, in revenue in 2003, of which Modo & Modo grossed about €7 million.
Still, some critics wonder if that success has in part been fueled by a fib, and they ask if it is fair to imply that famous writers and artists scribbled and sketched in Moleskine pages long before the brand was ever registered.
“It’s subtle – after all, it is an advertisement,” said Erminia Cozza, a legal consultant to the Italian consumer advocacy group Codacons. “But if they are trying to lead the consumer astray, that seems like false advertising.”
By Jason Horowitz
Read the full article @ International Herald Tribune
Renard @ Moleskinerie/ORKUT:
It is a good ad, certainly worked on me. Picking throught the verbiage, though, there is both truth and exaggeration. “Moleskine is the legendary notebook…” starts it off, and is basically false. The next paragraph, however, goes on to describe the general non-brand-specific characteristics, mainly the pocket, and elastic band. Later, the ad says “even the LAST producer…closed down”, implying that there was more than one producer.
The idea that there was a pocket, with something to read in it, sold me more than the text itself. I had no idea who Chatwin was until I googled him.
There’s not much text visible until you open the notebook, and by then the appealing feel of the book is as apparent as the overstated text, and, IMHO, the real selling point of the book….provided you get to feel one before buying.”