Monday, August 30, 2021

BASELWORLD IS BACK! Part 3 - The Revenge

So earlier today, the North Shore offices of Tempus Fugit received the news of BaselWorld's triumphant, feel-good comeback! And if nothing else, the press release proved once again English is indeed a challenging language...

It's the same self-congratulatory praise that the BaselWorld organizers have been bestowing upon themselves for as long as any of us can remember. It seems strangely familiar, and manages to avoid the deeper questions that a brand manager might ask, like - "Where the Hell's my money from last year?" And in reading it, I am reminded of that other great commentator on the watch business, Troy McClure from the Simpsons -

So let's unpack it, shall we?

Smells Like Teen Spirit...
Now in fairness, we all make mistakes. But the very first paragraph of the release is a minefield:
A Baselworld officially opened its first 'pop-up event' in Geneva this evening, at a press conference presenting the new Baselworld spirit, with 10 independent brands and a programme that favours openness, conviviality and networking. This event is part of the build-up to Baselworld 2022, which will take place in Basel from March 31 to April 4, 2022.

Where to begin?  I honestly don't know what "A Baselworld" is in the context of what I had previously known as BaselWorld.  The "new Baselworld spirit" is also hard to get my head around. Does this mean that brands will no longer be hounded to sign agreements and surrender tens of thousands of Swiss francs for a show that will never happen? Does this mean that people who should never have been shafted out of their money over a year ago might see it returned? Does it mean that they might be given a SHOCKINGLY low price to participate in the future? Or does it mean that they are simply getting the fuzzy end of the lollipop once again, but with a new and improved "Baselworld spirit"?

Say What?
Connecting with the industry
Celebrating a premiere, the new Baselworld was launched with an unprecedented step outside its traditional premises to meet the industry and its customers. For the first time the new spirit of Baselworld was presented with a pop-up event in Geneva, which will run from Monday August 30 to Thursday September 2, simultaneously with the Geneva Watch Days. At the heart of the new concept is the customer.

Sorry, I'm calling BS on this one. The only unprecedented aspect of this is that the organizers convinced 10 brands to meet them in Geneva. That and the author's ability to use the present continuous, past and various forms of the future tense all at once.

10 watch brands - Claude Meylan, IceWatch, AHCI represented by Ludovic Ballouard and David Candaux, BA111OD Watch Concept, Bomberg, Furlan Marri, Ikepod, Riskers and Sinn Spezialuhren - all chosen for their independent profile, their size and their distinctive positioning, are gathered under the new Baselworld banner, and participating in the new concept to showcase their novelties.

Let's be very honest here - these brands were not so much selected, as they were willing to cast their lots with BaselWorld once again. If we are talking about a compendium package of beer from around the world like you find at Christmas? Yes, 10 is variety. If we are talking about a collection of Kickstarter projects that have matured into brands - and I say that in no way as a negative thing, as well as 3 or 4 established brands? Let's just say that several regional shows here in the US drew more brands to participate than this. This is not variety, this is who was willing to roll the dice.

All year round
Physical, hybrid: animating the community all year round 24/7/365, is the core of the new Baselworld concept. With this first meeting we are launching a multitude of events - live and virtual - that will take place on the new digital platform, which will be activated in a few weeks' time in the autumn of 2021. Original content, events, networking, connections are new tools, for the industry, that have been developed and that will be made available to brands to optimise their audience and their business, all year round, in addition to the physical meeting points.

So it begs the question (and frankly all credulity) -How can it be that with all of the eager content creators who we've been told have already been brought on board, said content hasn't been "activated" yet and won't be "activated" until a time that is very clearly not "now"?

"It's Another Festivus Miracle!"
editor's note, we did endeavor to find an actual reference source beyond event planning articles to verify the etymology of the word Festivalisation, but to quote that other great commentator on the watch event planning business, Erik Francis Schrody, (who goes by the nom de rap Everlast) we found ourselves choking on a fistful of nothin'.
Under the auspices of inclusiveness, in Geneva this week, one can expect a vibrant social programme with an opening party, happy hour cocktails, aftershow and closing party. The business programme will be live broadcast featuring: Espresso Talks between Baselworld Managing Director Michel Loris-Melikoff and Jean-Christophe Babin, CEO of Bvlgari, as well as with Aurel Bacs, Senior Consultant at Phillips in Association with Bacs&Russo. A series of panel discussions on current topics such as Blockchain demystified with Gaetano Cavalieri, President of the CIBJO, the World Jewellery Confederation, whose member associations in more than 45 countries encompass more than 7 million individuals involved in world’s jewellery and gemstone sectors, the rise of CPO (Certified Pre-Owned, watchmaking and jewellery), Women in Watchmaking and the Art of Collecting will complete the programme. Much of all the above will be replicated on a larger scale at the grand show in Basel next year as the new Baselworld 2022 spirit reveals itself in a new environment as cool, friendly, trendy and open and accessible to all.

Also interesting to note that the Baselworld spirit will be categorized by age (or dare we say it, vintage) and apparently next year's spirit will be that of Baselworld 2022! I've been told it will be a bit toothsome, with hints of pencil shavings and a soup├žon of black currant. But in truth, I will be forever grateful that this dynamic, new Baselworld spirit will live on all year long! Yes, that was sarcasm. The old BaselWorld spirit is still alive and well and causing more than one brand owner to ask if they can finally get their money back from the fair that never was.

But maybe, if we close our eyes and wish real hard, the magic that is the Baselworld spirit will be something that we can enjoy all year long...

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