That's how it's Done
Late in the afternoon on opening day of Heimtextil last week, the gentleman to my right and I were ambling through Hall 11 when we heard a thumping bass and noticed a throng of people pressing their way into the Vossen booth.
The prominent German terry towel brand was throwing a fashion show. And it wasn't simply a matter of pretty young women (and one extremely fit young man) marching around in towels. There was a product story and pantomime to accompany each song.
To music evoking the high life on the Italian Riveria, the models emerged in black bikinis, sheer black head scarves and dark sunglasses - a la Mariangela Melato in "Swept Away" - to be wrapped in nautical Vossen beach towels (by the Vossen bath robe clad gentleman model.) A 1950s rock tune brought them back with beach towels displaying images of James Dean, Marilyn Monroe and other icons of the era (and not in a cheesy way).
You get the picture.
As my colleague and I departed the presentation - a more difficult task for one of us - we shared the same thought: How come stuff like that never happens here?
The question was no sooner asked than answered.
It's not that U.S. customers are incapable of appreciating such showmanship. It's that they would attack it as a waste of money and demand recompense.
"How much did you spend on that? How much are you giving us in mark-down money? How much of that could you have used for co-op ads? What are you going to do to make it right?"
Those are all comments we'd heard being made back when U.S. suppliers demonstrated at least a modicum of event savvy.
Heck, a few years ago when a certain manufacturing president landed at No. 1 on HTT's Top Executive Compensation List, his marketing director called, frantic. It turned out he'd jumped to the top because he'd exercised several years' worth of stock options - so he could establish a charitable foundation.
"You have to understand," the marketing director said. "Now Wal-Mart's going to call and say he's overpaid. And they're going to ask us for deeper price cuts."
That's what it's come to.
As for those of us who applaud an unforgettable display of well-executed marketing, well, we'll always have Frankfurt.