Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Summer Repeat - Two Phrases to Eliminate at BaselWorld (or any watch event, for that matter)

"James is a longtime friend of the brand!"

I hear this throw-away phrase at least six times a day during BaselWorld.  It is one of those profoundly dubious comments bandied about most often by the agencies hired at ridiculously high costs to somehow make you (the blogger) feel important.  I actually couldn't contain the laughter when that little set of bons mots was proffered with utter insincerity in the Girard-Perregaux booth this past year by the very agency that had avoided my calls and put off my repeated requests for an appointment.  Luckily, my coffee cup was only halfway to my mouth, avoiding a potentially embarrassing spray of lukewarm espresso onto the (no doubt) miso stained ties of the Japanese journalists sitting down the table from me.

Friend of the Brand is code for - "We don't advertise with them, we don't really make a huge effort, but they keep insisting on an appointment, so try to say something nice".  It is that not-so-subtle cue that you are clearly inconveniencing these people.

"Good to see you my friend!"

My friend is one of those funny expressions that clearly has different meanings in literal translation. The watch industry's lingua franca is English.  But the majority of the gatekeepers, CEOs, and transplanted brand managers are not native English speakers.  In French, mon ami has a very nice, collegial, downright fraternal meaning.  But there is a certain edge to "my friend" when used by native speakers of English, as it is oftentimes used in what can gently be referred to grammatically as the facetious tense.  I will defer to Chef, author and liver of life Anthony Bourdain's analysis from his seminal tome on the restaurant industry, Kitchen Confidential -

Shamelessly borrowed from Wikipedia
Pinche wey means "fucking guy" but can also mean "you adorable scamp" or "pal".  But if you use the word pal - or worse, the phrase my friend - in my kitchen, it'll make people paranoid.  My friend famously means "asshole" in the worst and most sincere sense of the word.

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