It’s a milestone

Sixty companies join forces and investment as a system. This is the reality of PNA – Pietra Naturale Autentica, an absolute first in a country that usually stands out for individualities

Marco Pareschi, Founder Bike Communication
Marco Pareschi, Founder Bike Communication

How has it been possible to put together sixty different mindsets, most of which have never paid much attention to marketing as a tool? IFDM asked Marco Pareschi, founder of Bike Communication, the agency that convinced Stefano Ghirardi (president of PNA) and the other members with a communication project that does not talk about them, but only the material with which they work: stone.

The world of stone is full of offerings. What makes PNA special?
PNA is technically a networking contract, whose aim is to promote the use of Authentic Natural Stone: marble, travertine, granite, all the stones. Not just the ingredients of the chain of supply and production (for example, those who make machines for cutting stone blocks, those who quarry or transform stone), but also a specific focus on products. Of course the technologies have grown over the last three decades or so, and they have generated very effective substitutes, also in terms of marketing and presence in relation to all the commercial and cultural intermediaries: these (relatively) new players have not reduced volumes or value, but they have limited our ability to make ourselves visible, to stand out. Nevertheless, natural stone is always one of a kind, unique, while in the end the substitute is simply a photograph of the stone, its reproduction. No matter how well it’s done, you can always see the difference with respect to real stone. To each his own virtues. Substitutes undoubtedly cost less, and they can be always equal, uniform. But today stone has reached levels of use that were previously impossible: the problem of stains on worktops in the kitchen, for example, has been eliminated, also thanks to technology.

Sustainability and stone: some people say that digging quarries is a way of wounding the planet.
Fortunately this is not the case. The permits granted for quarries have a time limit, and at the deadline the quarry has to be restored as a green zone. The processing of stone pollutes much less than the manufacture of other solid surfaces.

Stefano Ghirardi, President PNA
Stefano Ghirardi, President PNA

Apart from the aesthetic factor, what are the reasons behind sales?
With our current campaign, we have to some extent brought the problem out into the open, basing all the communication on the slogan “no fakes, natural stone is better.” It is an international effort, with great visibility in the UK and the USA, and it is aimed at specifiers, not the final consumers. With this strong statement, we have interpreted the reasoning behind the purchase of stone: nature is full of various types of marble, pietra serena, travertine, quartzite and so on, and the historical value of the material (stone has represented power for hundreds of years) is unique. Each slab is different from all the others, and there can be no two exactly equal stones. The brightness of stone, its capacity to reflect light, is another inimitable quality. With stone, four of the five senses are constantly engaged. To reinforce our message for the world of design, we have worked on the word “uniqueness”: if a project has creative content, don’t use an imitation to represent it – use the original, use stone. For a solid bond with the world of architecture, we have brought in the architects themselves, for a series of interviews in which they talk about their experiences with stone. We have discovered some real evangelists of stone. Two names will suffice: Marco Piva and Stefano Boeri.

What happens in 2022?
We will continue to invest, and not to talk about the past, but about the future. In any case, the 2020 campaign has raised some issues – the fact that we did not talk about a statue by Canova or Bernini’s colonnade made people think. In 2022 we will be a bit less institutional, more narrative. The website of PNA has also been completely revised, with a digital library where you can find information on any application of stone in the whole world. A world that has responded with over 14 million contacts. Definitely a milestone.