Friday, April 17, 2020

LVMH Heads South

Shamelessly Borrowed from the WorldWide infoweb 
News, honestly more anticipated than surprising, has made its way to the North Shore this morning confirming what most of us have seen as inevitable -

The Swiss watch Manufactures belonging to the LVMH Group, the world leader in luxury, have in turn decided to leave Baselworld in order to join the other flagship brands of the Swiss watch industry in Geneva from 2021 onwards.

That's the as yet to be formally named FHH spinoff, for those of you playing at home without a score card and game program.  Now there are some of you out there that might equate this with LeBron James taking his talents to  South Beach, but I think in all fairness this was inevitable.  

Watch Town is a very funny and peculiar place.  It is filled with some very intelligent, hardworking, and charming people.  And, like any other industry (and perhaps more than many) it is filled with ego.  And all of us who inhabit Watch Town are guilty of it to some extent.

I personally loved going to BaselWorld.  It was like the Super Bowl, 4th of July, World Cup, Christmas and Olympics all landed on your birthday.  It was fun.  Even from my first visit as a member of the press back in 2011 when almost nobody had time for me or knew who I was, it was exciting.  And yes, the fair was an expensive proposition.  For my first 6 BaselWorlds I stayed in Lucerne and commuted back and forth by train as the cost of accommodation for a week, even in a half-way house converted for BaselWeek (recovering addicts temporarily relocated) was of the level that is usually negotiated with the aid of a loaded pistol and a getaway car.  

And in all honesty, does the fair itself really need to cost the brands SOOOOO much money to participate?  I have worked on the other side of the BaselWorld booth as a brand employee, and the amounts demanded for just the booth space were of a level on par with the GDP of a small developing country, and that was just in Hall 2!  Trying to negotiate on certain points was often not unlike trying to purchase the correct exit visa on the East Berlin side at Check Point Charlie circa 1985 -
But Watch Town, although exciting and interesting, is not always populated by angels.  As rapacious and usurious as the brands feel that the fair organization has been these last five years (and in many ways, rightly so), some of those same brands have not exactly been welcoming, inclusive or even interested in the majority of the press, and honestly could not give a toss about the public.  You know, those mythical unicorns that actually BUY WATCHES.  Press appointments are often forgotten or ignored.  Now from the brand employee's point of view, they have a thousand appointments, and hey, some of them might be forgotten or missed, and if you are not the Wall Street Journal or one of the big outlets, we're not going to reschedule.  But to the journalist that spent $2,000 on a plane ticket, another $2,000 for accommodation, add more for food and ground transportation, and let's not forget the time off from work, this is a big deal.  The indifference of some brands to try and accommodate appointments that they (the brands) have messed up is really the height of arrogance.  And for many of us in the Fourth and Fifth Estate, it impacts how we view those brands moving forward.

So short view - it takes two to tango.

But let's get more basic than that -
On a core level, BaselWorld (and Watches and Wonders and the Geneva "fair to be named later") are there to serve the brands.  Not the other way around.  And that is something that BaselWorld lost sight of.  But I truly do not know that the folks in Geneva are going to be any more warm and fuzzy.  Trying to beg, borrow or steal a press credential for the former SIHH was a bit like being a contestant on Survivor.  

Again, the fairs are there to serve the brands.  BUT - the brands participating in these shows are there to serve the press, the retail partners and the public.  And here's an even colder cup of coffee on an already chilly morning - as brands have to cut or curtail their advertising budgets (understandably), the big, shiny watch media outlets that get all of the prime invites and velvet rope access?  Well, they are going to find it harder and harder to keep going.  And one more time for my one special fan out there whispering nasty things about me every chance they get, I do not wish bad luck or lack of success on ANYONE.
Fairs - you need the brands.  Stop making them kiss the ring.

Brands - you need the press and the public.  Stop treating the press like a beauty pageant where you're going to select the most popular boy and girl for the Homecoming/Prom King and Queen and blow everyone else off.

Journalists - it might be time to be a bit more inclusive with your coverage, and here's a crazy idea for one particular outlet - stop trying to charge money to brands who probably can't afford it for coverage in your outlet.  It's a dick move.

I think it is safe to say that we all love watches, maybe we all need to find a way to better share that love?

1 comment:

  1. With Rolex and Patek Philippe off, that seems the obvious decision for LVMH...