Massimiliano Pogliani was born in Milan, Italy, and spent the last 10 years working as CCMO of Nespresso before joining Vertu. He lives in London (Richmond) and works in Church Crookham (that’s where Vertu is based). He shared his thoughts about the new Vertu collection with me and talked about the future of the company.
For a start I should say that it was quite exciting to meet Massimiliano because I had been acquainted with the whole team of Vertu before and some members became my good friends, but I knew nothing about the new CEO. Who’s he? Italian – that’s already great but what else? The interview surprised me in a good way and I would like to share with you the impressions I was left with.
Ciao Massimiliano! You’ve already been in Moscow for a while… How long exactly? What have you seen? What did you like?
- Hi! I’ve been here for about a week, I like Moscow. I went to St. Petersburg too, wonderful city. In Moscow I really loved club Chateau de Fantômas – it’s so mixed and there’s a lot of fun there, Gorky Park and some other places, I walked a lot. Here are some photos I’ve posted on Instagram…
Tell me more about your Russian experience! With my good friend Mark, who used to work for Vertu, we spent some time in Moscow and loved to jump between posh and cheap places like Propaganda club/bar/restaurant who do a business lunch for £5. Actually many Vertu phones were dropped around the plates there haha.
- Yes! That’s what I think: luxury isn’t about being a prison, it’s a freedom to choose. You don’t need luxury, you don’t have to have it, you’ve got a choice. There was a man, Gianni Agnelli, the CEO of FIAT, who used to say: If you ask yourself how much does it cost you can’t afford it. You’re not stressed: if you like — you can buy, — this is luxury.
Any difference between Vertu before and now?
- Yes, first, for now we’re bringing out a range of products direct to the Russian market, no more distributors etc, and second we’re going to start some new services like monogram services here in the end of the month. I mean printing is still in England, but Russian customers can order it right here, in selected stores. Like here on Petrovka. You come to the boutique and choose between 3000 combinations of colour and personalisation, and in about 5-10 weeks you’ll receive your device.
I see the parallels between your new collection with monograms and, for example, Louis Vuitton bags with initials.
- Yes, we’ve started two programs this year — you can choose every detail in Vertu Signature and create your personal phone and you can add a monogram on Vertu Constellation. And going forward this service is gonna be available for all Vertu phones. The next step is «bespoke» — atelier service when you can make the phone only for you.
Almost every Vertu phone has leather on it. Where do you source the leather?
- Of course we use the best possible option. And then we test it for a few years. So, this leather in first Constellation V was tested for a few years before we launched the phone. It should be a very high level of resistance and great look: nice touch, nice colour etc. For example for this phone we use the leather from the supplier (with more than 150 years’ experience) who has been bringing leather to some well-known luxury houses around the world.
In the beginning when Frank (Nuovo) started to create Vertu he explored so many companies who produce leather, swiss watches, etc. Vertu took the best from every supplier. But can you find anything that Vertu has presented to the world and now it can be used?
- That’s interesting, because first of all, like a good artist who uses brushes, paint and other things to create a masterpiece, we used all the stuff you mentioned to create our masterpiece — first luxury phone in the world. That was our first introduction. Then we continued to improve all these operations like for example sapphire glass — in new and future products we use the 5th generation of sapphire glass. It could be impossible to produce such big pieces a few years ago and now we’ve improved the technologies and it doesn’t even sound science fiction. It started in Signature from experience of Swiss watches, but there is no that big watches as the glass we produce now. And same with titanium — we didn’t invent this material, it was well known in air and space industries, but we were first to put it in a phone. And then after all we have to put all the technical stuff inside — every antenna, every part of the phone should be inserted in the right way and work properly. And it’s all fitted in metal, leather and glass body. Our competitors are trying to copy the things we’ve invented, but you can see the result…
What’s you favourite Vertu phone?
- Hehe, I’m lucky to be the CEO of the company so I can use a few phones and adopt my requirements to each situation. For example yesterday I went to Bolshoi Theatre and all I needed there is to be reached by phone — no emails or twitter, so, I just brought the Signature phone with me. But when I travel and work I need something more powerful — I take my smartphone, Constellation is great for holidays and office weekdays!
So, it is the same way as ladies change expensive bags for every different moment?
- Yes, I believe that something which is good for all is good for nothing. For example, during my weekend when I go for a jog I don’t need to wear expansive shoes. Right? So, the same with the phones etc.
What’s the favourite phone colour for Russians?
- Before the launch of Constellation mostly preferences were for dark colours, because the design was more masculine, but for now we can play with colours. Now more than 30% of our customers are women, and they like bright colours like orange or fuchsia or cappuccino on the new Constellation.
You’ve launched a line of accessories like headphones and speakers.
- Yes, we did and it’s going to work with the whole range of Vertu devices or even with other devices — like your iPod etc. It was produced in cooperation between our engineers and some specialist companies.
iPhone is quite democratic and is luxury in the same time. Why should the costumers choose Vertu instead of iPhone?
- That’s like in clothes or other accessories. There are so many companies who produce good bags and clothes for an affordable price, but why do you choose LV or Hermes? Or another example — all the watches have the same function — showing the time. But some are cheap, some are expensive, some are from plastic, some — metal. Or cars — there are cheap cars or very expensive ones — but the same idea of transport. Talking about luxury — it’s not something you really need. You don’t satisfy a basic need, you’re satisfying yourself. If you like it — you buy it. If not — you don’t. My tie or shoes are very personal, same with Vertu — we don’t want everyone to buy it, but only people who are really into that. You can do the same stuff on iPhone or Vertu, but the difference is in the way of using them, the fine experience.
What did you use before Vertu?
- I used iPhone, but I moved very fast — after half a day I switched to Android without using it before. I never felt «I am missing something» — no. It’s all here. Yes, some phones can do more then others, but usually we don’t use more than 5% of a phone’s functions. So, on this 5% most of the phones are the same.
Why do you think Russians love luxury?
– It’s a combination of market evolution and its present situation. As we know, the Russian market was very closed some time ago. Not only to luxury, but to everyday things. And afterwards people’s wealth grew. Some of them needed to show their status. But now Russian consumers are like consumers in Asia — they prefer not to show luxury, they choose the knowledge of brand history etc. I’m so glad that our brand already has a rich history and is strong and recognizable.
And what’s very interesting is The World Premiere of the Peter Greenaway “Golden Age of Russian Avant-Garde” exhibit in Moscow, sponsored by Vertu. Here are some shots from the event.
Me and russian Vertu team (Vertu Constellation Quest and Constellation)