Friday, May 25, 2018

The Transfer Window Opens

BaselWorld is the biggest watch event of the year.  Despite bumps along the road and its recent, very dramatic contraction in the number of participating brands, visitors and number of operating days, it is still the top of the heap.

The last three years have been particularly dicey, with even the dedicated sycophants wringing their hands, bemoaning how unfair things were in terms of pricing, etc.  This was particularly humorous for those of us who travel coach, depend on the free lunch in the press room to stretch our meal budget, and use vacation days from our day jobs to attend.  Listening to someone who is wearing shoes that cost more than my mortgage payment moan about how expensive the fair has gotten and how tone deaf the fair management has become is hard to do with a straight face.

So if I am honest, today's announcement regarding the long-serving Managing Director, Sylvie Ritter's resignation was not unexpected.
But again, if I am honest, the brands have been complicit in the rise and fall of the BaselWorld fair.  And this is absolutely understandable.  When times are good, it is normal that you spend money a bit more freely, and you don't worry about tomorrow as much as maybe you should.  Brand owners and managers saying that the fair got too greedy, didn't pay attention their customers (the watch brands), oversold space (not unlike the brands who over produce), and showed no loyalty (like the brands who refuse to honestly trade with their retail partners and instead dump stock in the grey and light grey market) were out of touch.  But I suspect that a lot of these recent contrarians are not necessarily converts to the new economic realities.  Rather they are "trendetarians".  From our friends at the Urban Dictionary:

A person that cuts a certain food out of their diet because of a trend
Jessica became a trendetarian because her favourite magazine told her gluten is bad.
by rk.rust March 20, 2018

So long as they can afford it, they will participate.  Breitling and some others played a very good bluff this past year, but in the end it was just that, a bluff.

Some simple facts -

BaselWorld has always been crazy expensive for most of us to attend.  The main difference is that for some of us it something we really want to attend and really want to participate in.  

So may I make a sincere proposal to both the fair and the brands -

To the fair - maybe reach some sort of negotiated deal with hotels in the area for press.  Not to give rooms away, but rather to offer a discount for members of the press.  You could have the greatest watch in the world, but if the media doesn't cover it, what's the point?

Also, please continue to offer the same great benefits of the press room.  It is REALLY appreciated!

To the brands - start treating all the press and all of your retail partners a bit more equally.  Just as you may feel hard done by when you get a take it or leave it attitude from the fair organizers, the press and your retail partners often feel the same way ; )

Despite the expense, time away from home, and loss of vacation time I personally love going to BaselWorld.  After 11 fairs (3 as a brand rep, and 8 as a member of the press), I still enjoy it.  

And for both the brands and the fair organizers, maybe consider the fair like this - it can be chicken salad, or chicken shit.  I personally prefer chicken salad ; )

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