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Your Shot: How DIESEL Disrupted Tedious Meetings with a Cruelly Uncomfortable Capsule

Publicis Italy’s Mihnea Gheorghiu explains the rationale behind one of the strangest inventions unveiled at Milan’s Wired Next Fest

Your Shot: How DIESEL Disrupted Tedious Meetings with a Cruelly Uncomfortable Capsule

A couple of weeks ago Italy’s tech elite headed to Milan’s Giardini Montanelli to gaze into the future of business, technology and culture. Among the many gadgets and gizmos on display there, they were confronted by ‘The Capsule’ - a bizarre contraption looking like some kind of lunar landing pod. 

But it wasn’t designed by NASA or SpaceX. It was actually a project devised by Publicis for their client DIESEL. And it isn’t going to take anyone into space. It’s purpose is to free up time for us all by reducing the length of business meetings.

Intrigued by this eyebrow-raising project, LBB’s Alex Reeves spoke to global digital creative director at Publicis Italy Mihnea Gheorghiu to find out why it made sense for a denim brand take part in this pioneering experiment.

LBB> What strategic insight made 'The Capsule' the right idea for DIESEL's marketing goals?

MG> Renzo Rosso [Diesel founder and president of OTB Group] is well known for making decisions very quickly. However, with DIESEL growing in size considerably, the whole “instant decision making” mantra got a bit left behind and people started getting trapped in meetings more and more. I mean, who likes sitting in meetings anyway? 

That’s why Dario (Gargiulo, the global CMO of DIESEL) wanted to bring back the fast decision process into the new DIESEL DNA. What started off as an internal corporate communication plan quickly evolved and became a very real meeting room that will soon tour the DIESEL offices around the world. 
LBB> How does the idea fit into DIESEL's broader positioning and brand story?

MG> DIESEL will always enjoy challenging the status quo and will give an alternative to conformity. So, while other work places try to lure employees with oceans of free coffee, comfy chairs or meeting rooms you’d want to hibernate in, DIESEL thinks that the best meeting is the shortest one possible. For sure there are way better things to do out there, other than going through hundreds of slides while dipping biscuits in cappuccinos. 

LBB> What was the initial idea and how much did it change as you came to build the capsule?

MG> Well, the best way to keep meetings short – meet in a room that keeps meetings short. So, it has always been about creating a meeting room. We also tried altering existing meeting rooms, like creating a sort of “kit” that can be applied to any meeting room out there, but, believe it or not, building an entire room from scratch proved to be simpler.  

LBB> What are all of the features and how did you decide to incorporate them?

MG> What you can see in the video and what people experienced during Wired Next Fest in Milan is a prototype – it has the reclining table, the 10-minute slide limit, the wind turbine, the strobe lights and the mad techno. I guess in some exceptional cases, the timer can be programmed to last longer (or shorter). Once it takes its rightful place in the halls of DIESEL HQ, we’ll try to implement one more feature, probably the most devious of the bunch: the person organizing the meeting in the capsule will be able to book it only by using his/her LinkedIn profile – so if the meeting goes over the limit, a bot will start trolling the organizer’s profile, posting statuses about how he or she couldn’t keep a meeting to 15 minutes. 

Is that very extreme or very effective? Yes.

LBB> What did you learn when it came to actually making it?

MG> Building an uncomfortable room is harder than you think, and it took the team a lot of (short… ish) meetings to crack it. It couldn’t be too extreme just for the sake of it, because no one would use it. That’s how the idea of the gradually increasing discomfort came about. Despite our goal, we had to start by making an inviting, comfortable and cool looking meeting room. Then it was all about taking things out. No coffee machine, no visible outlets, no plants or “there’s no I in team” type of motivational posters and other corporate mumbo-jumbo that could make one lose focus. So, we were left with the essentials to play with: a timer, a working screen, sound, lights, table and three to four chairs. After a short research, we realized that a meeting shouldn’t need more than three to four active people. Unless you work in a choir. 

LBB> How did people react to it at Wired Next Fest?

MG> It was nice to see so many people lining up for three full days to try it out. It was like we made an amusement park ride: kids, teens, professionals, LinkedIn influencers and so forth, they were all realising that this was not a joke. 
LBB> Where will 'The Capsule' go now? Seems like there might be potential investors queuing up to mass produce it!

MG> The capsule is now in the DIESEL HQ in Breganze, Italy. There are plans for it to travel the world, from one DIESEL office to another. It’s become a little platform if you can call it that, there are so many fun ways to activate it internally, from interviews to quick product brainstormings and so on. They’ll for sure have meetings in the Capsule to decide its future path. 
LBB> Has it changed the way you approach meetings at Publicis Italy?

MG> No, not really. We have yet to add some strobe lights and wild techno to our meeting rooms for that to happen.
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