Why more and more enterprises choose accessible documents? Interview
Fondazione LIA has been working with publishers, companies and different types of organizations for many years to create a more accessible digital ecosystem for everyone. A novelty of this year is the conversion and certification activity carried out for Terna spa, an important reality managing the Italian high-voltage transmission grid and driving the ecological transition from traditional sources to renewable ones. Thanks to the collaboration with Mercurio GP, an advertising agency specialized in financial and institutional communication, Fondazione LIA was responsible for making accessible and certifying the 2020 Sustainability Report and the 2020 Integrated Report of the annual Financial Statements, both in Italian and in English.
LIA has been working with other important Italian realities for many years. In 2014 we started a collaboration with Intesa Sanpaolo Group to produce the annual Consolidated Non-financial Statement as accessible. Since 2019 LIA has also been converting and certifying as accessible the annual Sustainability Report of BNL – BNP Paribas Group.
Making documents accessible means giving value to all the people addressed by the communication: there are more than 2 million visually impaired in Italy. This represents a concrete company commitment to inclusivity, also in accordance to the new related legislation, in particular the European Accessibility Act.
Fondazione LIA has set a goal for its job: working for a world where everybody can read any kind of digital publication without problems and in full autonomy, whether it is a book or an information brochure, a contract or the annual report of a company. This goal can only be achieved by working in synergy and collaborating with other realities that share the same values of inclusivity.
We interviewed Guido Ponti, CEO of Mercurio GP agency, to tell us about this collaboration and how accessibility is becoming a requested service, an issue drawing the attention of different types of companies.
Can you tell us more about you and your company history?
Mercurio GP was established more than 20 years ago, following an intuition: the ability to notice a professional gap between the financial world and the advertising communication, except for the standard model offered by large advertising groups.
Not surprisingly, our most important value is independence, in the sense of freedom to follow uncommon paths and to guide our clients through new areas and styles of communication that are not (yet) mainstream.
We have been the first in Italy to turn the financial statements from a merely legal obligation to a communication tool for market and stakeholders. It is not by chance that in Mercurio GP we have been talking about “Sustainability” since 2000, when they still called it “Respect” and it was included in the so called “socio-environmental reports”, nor the fact that we have been improving this expertise. We have extended our business also to the commercial area, until we started collaborations with the most important institutions in the field of sustainability, such as IIRC (International Integrated Reporting Council), ASviS (Italian Alliance for Sustainable Development), WICI (World Intellectual Capital/Assets Initiative) and OIBR (Italian Organization of Business – Non Financial, Sustainability, Integrated – Reporting), of which we are founding members.
You have been working with Italian companies for advertising, financial and institutional communication and much more. Which are the values pursued by companies in this field? How can they communicate in a way that is effective and inclusive at the same time?
Nowadays, the market asks companies to find concrete solutions to social and environmental challenges. It rewards those who take action in this movement: the time of advertising promises is gone, now it’s the moment for trust agreements between brand and people to build new and unique competitive advantages.
Sustainability communication follows rules which are different from those of commercial communication end in itself. The self and its individual advantages disappear: everything should be seen from a community perspective, where individual actions can make the difference for many.
This is why today we are the first agency to promote a model of “value communication”, developing new ways of creative and strategic narration to present sustainability as the heart of business, from online to offline, from institutional to brand advertising.
When did Mercurio GP become interested in accessibility?
Dealing with the complex world of sustainability, accessibility – and inclusivity in general – has always been a key issue.
The real question, instead, is how we have been able to pass its huge potential to our clients, not only as a social initiative but as an identifying value for the brand.
It’s easy: let’s guide them to change their perspective and to consider accessibility as a strategic pillar to define their communication and company purposes. Sustainability rewards those who actually put it into practice and not just talk about it.
And accessibility is a concrete action.
Which clients asked you the accessibility certifying service and why? Which are the advantages for a company making this choice?
The market often struggles to lead innovation in the communication field, especially the market of major brands, as their dimensions delay these processes.
In most cases, it is our ability to anticipate needs and market’s short and middle term macro-trends that gives us the possibility to carry out the innovation, but occasionally our clients also inspire us directly.
This is the case of BNL, for example, which maintained its promise of inclusivity and believed in the importance of realizing a certified accessible report, becoming a new benchmark for all the sector.
The initiative of Terna (the most important independent provider of high-voltage transmission grids for electricity in Europe) was exciting. With its leading role in driving the ecological transition, defining a new development model for the future generations, Terna has all the interest in making accessible its valuable messages for the future.
In 2020 you won the prize “Independent Agency” of the year at the NC Awards, when the best of the Italian communication is celebrated. It is an important reward. How do you see yourself in a few years?
With independence as our driver, we imagine ourselves as we were 25 years ago but strengthened by an even more contemporary vision, shaping creativity, innovation and specific skills to anticipate the needs of the market and of our clients, which are discovering new communication possibilities every day.
Sustainability, and then also inclusivity, represent our future: together with our clients we address the “best” part of people, who consequently should perceive our communication both as a social confirmation of themselves and as the active part of a positive change for everyone.
We want to lead a total change in perspective, what we call a “value communication”: self-reference must be forgotten as, when the time of promises is gone, trust agreements and reputation become our drivers of choice.
And these needs find in Mercurio GP a communication hub ready to satisfy them.