Giuseppe Zuliani, Marketing Director of Conad, talks about his 10 years of Conad Jazz Contest
10 years of Conad Jazz Contest, time for an assessment. We have interviewed Giuseppe Zuliani, Marketing Director of Conad, the promoter of the Contest.
Giuseppe – “Pino” as he gets mostly called – has been since the beginning one of the strongest endorsers of this Contest.
We have asked him to tell us about “his” 10 years of Contest and how things have changed over time.
What was the company’s initial motivation for launching the Conad Jazz Contest? Why jazz, why a music contest?
The idea came quite spontaneously thanks to our historic partnership with the Umbria Jazz Foundation. We were thinking about enriching this partnership with activities that had an impact on the area and that at the same time gave jazz lovers a sort of complementary appointment after a discussion with the Foundation also explaining to them what kind of vision we had to enrich the sponsorship with an initiative of this type it was natural to think of young people and to think of a contest, which is a concrete support activity for young people, remaining in the jazz field and to invest in talent.
What is the target audience for the contest and how has this target changed – if it has – over time and why?
The chosen target is “young people”, because we want to contribute to the formation of a career and future prospects for those with talent in this area. We also thought of leaving the possibility open to everyone but then the best editions were those in which we set the age range of the participants, we encouraged them to compete and the result was a winning formula.
How is young musicians’ participation in the contest evaluated and what criteria are used to select the winners? Conad does not appear among the judges of the selections: why?
We listened to the participants and the finalists with great interest, but we immediately decided to entrust the technical decisions to the technicians of the sector, as we had already done previously with an initiative linked to schools with which we reward young writing talents.
What benefits has Conad obtained from sponsoring the Conad Jazz Contest over all these years and how have these benefits been measured? How have these benefits changed/grown over the course of these editions and what do you expect/what does Conad expect from this tenth edition?
Beyond the return of image, because the constancy in carrying out the project for all these years has rewarded and today the Conad Jazz Contest is considered among the most important if not the most important and prestigious competition for young jazz musicians in Italy, and it even came up in one of the periodic researches that we carry out every two years to monitor our reputation. One thing that definitely set us apart was the ability to merge physical and digital. For years we have been committed to making everything we do more digital and having a contest that starts online, with registrations and votes and ends live, has also been particularly appreciated by the public we address. Last but not least, the Contest is part of our Sustainability project, also understood as social sustainability.
What were the main challenges that Conad faced in organizing the Contest and how were they overcome?
Well, the very fact of having organized a digital contest in partnership has implied the development of a digital architecture capable of hosting a contest that allows you to upload music, listen to it and vote, and provide all the necessary information. Building an adequate “Customer Experience” was a challenge, also because in Conad the attention to the Customer Experience is very high. Another complication was also defining a stage, at the Carducci Gardens in Umbria Jazz there is a stage that is dedicated to the performances of the 10 finalists.
What were the most memorable performances that involved the participants of the Conad Jazz Contest in the last 10 years? Any you remember in particular? Why?
I remember a year in which at the same time as Umbria Jazz we also had our Conad event “The great journey together” and we had decided to bring a stage to each stage of the great journey on which to exhibit these talents and therefore I had the opportunity to listen to them more. Another important edition is the last one, both because it marked the return after the forced stop of the pandemic and because I still have it a bit in my ears. However, there has been a lot of talent over the years and several artists and groups that were finalists or winners of the Contest have since had good careers.
What are Conad’s future plans for the Contest and what other initiatives does Conad promote to support talent, and in particular the talent of young people?
We have seen that the formula works and therefore for the Contest part we do not currently have major changes planned. For the aftermath, however, we came up with the idea of bringing these musicians perhaps to the parking lots of some hypermarket or inside a shopping center where we are present to give further prominence to the integration and continuity that are integrated into this project.
What is the most significant feedback that Conad has received from contest participants and how has this feedback been taken into consideration to improve the event over the years?
An episode that made me particularly happy occurred during the summer of 2018: I was in New York with my family on vacation and it was a day in which we had been out and about all day walking, in the end, we didn’t feel like going back to the hotel and had nothing fancy planned, and ended up staying at the historic Blue Note of New York and d listened to a concert. I was wearing the T-shirt I had been wearing all day and it was the T-shirt from the latest edition of Umbria Jazz and on my way to the bathroom I met a musician who was playing there, who stopped me and we started talking about Umbria Jazz and by chance, he was the father of one of the boys who had won that summer’s edition so it was a magical crossroads that also allowed me to touch this transmission of enthusiasm from father to son and made me the compliments that I also feel like sharing especially with the participants of the Contest because they created the large park, we simply supported.