Brando Manago, confessions of a secret marketer [INTERVIEW]

The latest mysterious figure populating the Italian marketing blogging scene!

The big corporation world is filled with marketing soldiers. You are in business class, of course, but you’re at the same time in the trenches: your job is cool, you get good money, social standing but you gotta follow the rules of the captain. They say there is room for creativity, you are the owner of your business, you propose and they accept, but in truth it may not be like that.

You, humble but proactive Brand Manager, assume that Kotler was right regarding marketing strategies, that Covey was cool about leadership style, that you can’t be wrong when you have vision and long term attitude but I’m sorry, buddy, you may be wrong. You forget that on the driving seat there are people who see things you never see, meet people you never meet, who cares about issues you may never even know about. Which explains why they ask you to do things against the common sense: their common sense is different from yours as well as different is their power.

But while most of us do nothing but complain (whilst in the meantime bite the hand that feeds them), at least there is someone who has decided to give voice to those crowding the corporation’s marketing office ranks: Brando Manago.  Behind the character of Brando Manago there is a mysterious marketing brand manager working in the FMCG sector in Italy who, keeping a secret identity to prevent any kind of trouble, with a terrific mix of irony and realism shows us what really happens in the open space through a priviliged perspective – from inside.

Sometimes he is bitter, sometimes resigned, sometimes enthusiast. Let’s know a bit more about him, you never know when he might decide to reveal his identity!

Q: First and foremost, who is Brando Manago?

Brando is a brand manager like many others in consumer goods companies. He had been working in marketing departments for years, dealing with all the paradoxes and contradictions of a huge corporation, when at the end of 2010 he became the main character of the unlikely (but indeed more realistic) story of his everyday life in a blog.

Q: And who’s behind Brando? Give us a clue.

Behind the character of Brando there’s just me. I’m a passionate marketer. I’m curious about understanding people and I love telling stories. I think a good story is the most powerful way to effectively communicate with people, whatever your message is. If you work in a company or an agency and you know someone like this, perhaps you have discovered Brando’s secret identity.

Q: Why a secret identity? You just like to be mysterious or would it be inconvenient to reveal yourself?

Brando is a transparent, irreverent, ironic and sometimes sarcastic guy. He always asks questions and is constantly  in conflict with the status quo. Furthermore he doesn’t respect arrogant people, cheaters and approximation. Can you see such a profile working in a multinational company? Sometimes I think I am the mask that the genuine Brando wears to work in a corporation.

Q: Could Brando be a Ninja?

Is Ninja about hiding yourself with a mask? Why not!? All jokes aside, I think traditional marketing is weakening day after day and catching the new unconventional consumers (let’s call them people) requires new “knowledge for change”. In this mix of research, thought and action I feel a certain affinity with Ninjas.

Q: How did you come up with the idea of Brando Manago? What inspired you?

I always felt awkward when people asked me ”what’s your job?”. I mean, you say “marketing” but they just seem to hear “fraud”. So one day I decided to write a book about the confessions of a marketing & communication professional to make it easier to understand what a marketer really does (first of all easier to myself!). A publisher read my book and told me “Hey, this is fun! But it’s not a book… why don’t you make a blog?”. And so it started… now you can add Brando on Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and Pinterest if you like. You don’t win anything, but it is free.

Q: 3 words to describe Brando’s personality

Oh my God! This is the question I hate most! Headhunters always ask it. If I had 3 words I would say: “A liar, honestly”.

Q: Sometimes Brando appears resigned, like he feels bitter about the world of the big corporations. What would Brando want to change to make things better? Imagine you can do whatever you want: 2 proposals

I don’t know how to change corporations. What I can tell you is that I’ve seen many talented guys entering big companies with curiosity and enthusiasm and turning year after year into conservative “political” employees great at blah-blah, but mediocre at making decisions and taking responsibilities. So my proposal is not for the companies, but for the people: you change company before a company changes you.

Q: Brando is more marketer or more consumer?

A wise man said “Marketing is the ability to turn human facts understanding into business results”. I think Brando couldn’t be a good marketer if he wasn’t first a passionate consumer. Bottom line, is there anything better than drinking an ice cold Coke on a hot summer beach?

Q: What is the ultimate goal of Brando Manago, if one?

Honestly Brando started as a game, and to me still is. As Brando Manago I have the chance to get in contact with a lot of interesting people to share our interests and feelings. Being in contact with stimulating people in the social space allows me to be updated on the most interesting marketing and communication initiatives and compare my opinion with that of others. Is that a good goal for a marketer?

Q: When your ‘coming out’ Brando? Do you think it would bring you more opportunities or more trouble?

Companies do not appreciate irony and sarcasm directed to them.  I think I’ll have to change my job when I come out. You ask me if this is an opportunity or a trouble… but in honesty I still don’t know.

Q: Thank you Brando!