On the bus to Rio

busman’s holiday

noun

a vacation or day off from work spent in an activity closely resembling one’s work, as a bus driver taking a long drive.
Last week I was lucky enough to be a guest of Diageo Reserve at their World Class bartender final in Rio. For me this was an opportunity for “my worlds” to fortuitously collide ! I was there as a guest panelist speaking on luxury trends and the role of corporate charity (my current locus) but after 11 years in the world of alcohol beverage marketing (my previous roles) it was a great opportunity to experience some of the world’s greatest brands and witness some of the world’s finest mixologists.
And all of this set in the context of Rio (I can declare that winter in Rio is certainly warmer than summer in London) which was the perfect backdrop to the overarching theme behind the gathering of “Retro Chic”.
As you can imagine it was very easy to justify a week’s vacation.
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The panels were stimulating and it felt good to be amongst some serious intellectual heft (design / luxury / retail / fashion / technology) with Tony Chambers (Editor of Wallpaper), Dylan Jones (Editor of GQ), Sasha Wilkins (an inspirational Social Commentator) and Jason Beckley (Global Marketing Director for Alfred Dunhill). Our diversity helped but so did the composition of the audience – Diageo had selected a global mix of media, commentator and customer.
In relation to “Retro Chic” our consensus was very much centred around the escapism that harking back to the 1950’s and 1960’s brought to us today. Then technology was our friend and we had not yet begun to be tied to the office via a digital tether. Values seemed simpler and cocktail culture was a manifestation of this – which is why now, in 2012, time slows down with every move of that shaker.
Throughout the week our discussions spilled over from the panel – to the poolside and into themed nights anchored around Ketel One, Johnnie Walker Blue and Zacapa – bringing alive our points in a way which makes Powerpoint redundant. And ain’t that the truth, it all boils down to direct interaction

That and investment in people. As the week went on I was struck by how much time and money the hosts were putting into a global effort to raise bartender standards. With three previous winners on hand combined with regional heats you can see that those of us who enjoy a well crafted drink anywhere in the world have a lot to be thankful for.

In terms of luxury trend I focused on the well published move from hard luxury goods to experience. It’s ALL about the experience – and a sharing one at that. Perhaps a changing economic world has made the world less self-centred but it’s also a way to ensure that a purchase is more rational, more justifiable. Life, a bit like Rio, is all the better when you are with fellow travellers.

For a non-working, working vacation this trip set a new standard – despite how unhappy I look in the picture (I was concentrating) !

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