Tuesday, July 31, 2018

"Allow Me To Retort... "

So the communications team at Baselworld has offered a response of sorts to the Swatch Group departure.  And having read it, I am even more confused than before as to just what, exactly, Baselworld will look like next March.

Below is the text as I received it, my comments in blue -


Regret over Swatch Group’s decision to stay away –
Other big Swiss watch brands have confirmed their intention to participate

Well, at least in the very brief time frame between Sunday and Monday ; )

BASEL, SWITZERLAND, 30 JULY 2018 – Baselworld, the world’s most important trade show for watches, jewellery and gemstones, announces numerous innovations for 2019. The show’s organizers responded with regret to Swatch Group’s announcement of its intention to stay away from Baselworld 2019, but the show’s management contradicted the representation published yesterday in the Sunday edition of the NZZ, which claimed that the exhibitors had not been notified about the new concept. 
Brief editorial note - why in the name of all that is good and holy does an organization craft a press release where they speak about themselves in the third person?  It's like listening to a professional athlete or a certain serial watch brand CEO - "Yes, (insert my own name here) is all about hard work and share-holder value!"

René Kamm, CEO of MCH Group, says: “We extraordinarily regret Swatch Group’s decision. The cancellation is all the more surprising for us because this news reaches us at a point in time when new management has arrived with a new team, new esprit and many new ideas.” 
Translation?  "This is not our fault!  We shit-canned the last person (finally) and we've only just started!"  Which, if I'm honest, doesn't ring true.  Baselworld was back in March, and August is now knocking on the door.  That is nearly half a year.  Also, it is poor form to throw your predecessor under the bus.  You are the captain of the ship now, stop talking and start walking.

Innovative Communications Strategy, Improvement in the Hospitality Concept
Michel Loris-Melikoff, who became Baselworld’s new Managing Director on 1 July 2018, likewise confirmed that the transformation of Baselworld from an order platform to an attractive marketing, communications and events platform will be prioritized in 2019. Loris-Melikoff says: “Numerous new formats and ideas will be presented and implemented.” The event focuses on Hall 1 in 2019. The highlights from Les Atéliers, i.e. the best creations by independent watchmakers, will be presented in Hall 1.0 South, which was not used last year. Hall 1.1 will be the venue for “The Loop”, an area which will present an exhibition about the art of watchmaking (“Métiers des Horlogers”). A diverse selection of catering options, ranging from takeaway to an exclusive three-star restaurant, will be available for exhibitors and visitors. The catering areas thus move from the show’s periphery to its centre. Another highlight is the new “Show Plaza” in Hall 1.2, which will bring together the best jewellery manufacturers. A spectacular 240° catwalk with numerous LED screens makes it possible to stage jewellery in totally innovative ways. Loris-Melikoff explains: “This area will also be used for a wholly revised press day and a Retailer Summit, which takes place for the first time.”
Catering options?!?  So, instead of dashing across the street for a $12 sausage, I can stay in the hall (no fresh air or sunshine) and give the fair organizers $15 for the same thing?  Guys, give me a break!  The frustrations over Baselworld have SO VERY LITTLE to do with the lack of a three star restaurant right in the middle of the hall.  Also, no offense, but the majority of us heading to the fair are NOT in the general public.  An "exhibit" of the art and history of watchmaking is exactly NOT what I am spending a few thousand dollars and one week of my vacation time to cover.  The majority of us go to Baselworld for a few specific reasons:
1.  See the new releases so that we can either write about them or order them.
2.  Meet with brands and brand representatives so that we can do some business (sales, marketing, PR, advertising).
3.  The social aspect - many of us have rather demanding day jobs and, well, lives.  We cannot drop everything several times a year to go to events, galas, and PR dog and pony shows.  Baselworld offers the one opportunity to get a lot done in a short amount of time.

The promise of an "attractive marketing, communications and events platform" is only serving to underscore the misunderstanding of the fair organizers as to where the value is for the brands, the journalists and that little group that essentially provides the main engine for this annual shindig - the retailers ; )

SWATCH group has more than enough money to conduct their own marketing, communications and events.  In fact, they already do this.  They have their own cafe at the fair, so the promise of extended catering ideas is not exactly sweetening the deal.

Loris-Melikoff also announced intensive discussions with representatives of Basel’s hotel and restaurant industry, with the goal of achieving constructive solutions. The objective is to draw up and sign a “Charta” with partner hotels to guarantee a reasonable price level. In return, Baselworld would recommend the hotels as the show’s partners.
Yeah, I'm sure that's going to produce results...
"So, we know that Baselworld is your busiest time of the year, you know, when you make most of your money.  We know you're always sold out and that watch brand owners and managers put their kids on the waiting list at birth for a Baselworld room... but we were thinking that you could cut your prices during the fair back to normal, everyday levels, and in exchange we will recommend your hotel!"  And maybe they could convince Mr. Hayek to adjust the prices of Omega sport watches to more realistic levels while their at it ; )
Sorry, too soon?
The fair in and of itself will not make that happen.  Look no further than the Hyperion or the boats if you doubt me.  

A new communications strategy, which works with innovative digital formats and offers the brands a year- round stage for their products, will also be implemented. The chatbot, which was introduced in the 2018 edition and brings all relevant information directly to the user’s mobile telephone via messaging services, will be expanded to include services such as ticketing and navigation and will also be extended onto WeChat for the Asian audience. 
So, in addition to all of the Facebook, Linkedin, What's App, email, texts and phone calls that blow up my iPhone during BaselWeek, you want me to add MORE?  Guys, the issue is not that the information isn't available.  But I will suggest that maybe, just maybe you send press releases that cover a bit more than the big groups.  I SOOOOO don't care about Hamilton, Mido and several others.  I have no doubt you feel the need to keep brands happy, but consider some of the smaller brands that spend (for them at least) a good chunk of change to participate, even when they are stuck in the "hinterlands" of the fair halls.  They have stuck with you, they deserve better.  In your news blasts, show these brands that you actually, I don't know, care about them too.  You never know, you might need them more than you think ; )

The New Concept Was Presented to All Committees
Simultaneously, Loris-Melikoff contradicted the representation published in the NZZ, which claimed that the new concept had been implemented without prior coordination with Baselworld’s exhibitors. Baselworld’s management regularly meets with a national and with an international exhibitors’ committee. A collection of ideas was already presented to the Comité Consultatif in early May and the rough concept was presented to the representatives of the Swiss exhibitors at the end of June; the latter concept was then introduced to the Comité Mondial on 4 July. A high-ranking manager from Swatch Group was present at both sessions of the Comité. Loris-Melikoff adds: “Of course, I received inputs and these were accordingly taken into consideration. All of our ideas are conceived in close coordination with our exhibitors.”
Which, of course, somewhat contradicts the complaint that the new fair team had only "just started" ; )

The Other Big Swiss Watch Brands Support the New Concept
The concept was warmly received at all three sessions. “Naturally, Swatch Group’s cancellation is extremely regrettable for Baselworld. Nevertheless, we are convinced by our new concept and we will implement it together with the other key players in the industry”, Loris-Melikoff says. 
Having read some of the comments from the shot callers in the industry, I don't know if that is 100% accurate.  But I also think that if a "traffic magnet" is removed, you will be more likely to see more people, and in all honesty, they will probably do a "wait and see" for 2019.

Michel Loris-Melikoff emphasizes that the other big Swiss watch brands will also participate in Baselworld in 2019. Despite the setback which Swatch Group’s cancellation undoubtedly represents, he is undauntedly combative and will make every effort in order to achieve a strong Baselworld in 2019. Loris-Melikoff says: “We want to conduct the fair in 2019 as attractively as possible, in a new style and with a new way of thinking. With this in mind, I hope that a successful edition of Baselworld in 2019 will motivate Swatch Group to again participate in the show in the future. I personally would be very pleased to hold constructive talks with Swatch Group.” 
Language is a funny thing:
adjective: combative
ready or eager to fight; pugnacious.
See also:
pugnacious, aggressive, antagonistic, quarrelsome, argumentative, contentious, hostile, truculent, belligerent, bellicose.

Yea, I can't see how there could be such a misunderstanding as the one between the fair organizers and the SWATCH group...  


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