While this week unfolded as an exceptional birthday week for me, I could be in perfect contentment of having tasted some of the finest things in life, particularly after the prestigious Moët Hennessy & Financial Times Club dinner three nights ago at Mosimann’s, one of the most prestigious private dining clubs in the world, located in the heart of Belgravia, London.
The dinner, to which I was looking forward to since receiving the invitation about two months ago from the Financial Times, is a once in a year occasion for a lucky selection of business people in the city. Since 2002, there has only been a handful of these events, aimed at gathering some of the most influential profiles in business, particularly it seems in finance, media and luxury, along with some of the industry’s new entrepreneurs. I must admit it felt rather like a privilege and what an occasion on my birthday week.
For both Moët Hennessy and the Financial Times, last year’s dinner was somewhat of a special case as it happened in the midst the crisis. Also this year was about the recovery. Business leaders and entrepreneurs were not the only elements brought together by the event, as it was also, of course, a time for mixing the pleasures of exceptional Moët wines and champagnes along with established chef Anton Mosimann’s exceptionally refined four-course menu. The whole schedule was accommodated with introspective speeches about the past, the present and the future of the media industry, including a long final speech by guest of honour Mr Maurice Levy, who runs one of the biggest advertising groups in the world, Publicis.
After a warm champagne reception upstairs attended by the restricted guest list of about 80 people in total, the food had us at the first bite, as plates of smoked salmon with trout mousseline, risotto ai funghi, tournedos of angus beef with market vegetables and potatoes, and lemon tart with mint sorbet and berry coulis succeeded each other in a delicate and perfectly orchestrated ‘food variation’. Mr Christophe Navarre, Chairman and CEO of Moët Hennessy told attendants about the introduction throughout the dinner of 4 of their most refined wines. Indeed, only taste can relate to how refined to the palate were the accompaniements to such exceptional meal: a Moët Grand Vintage 2000, a Cloudy Bay Sauvignon Blanc 2008, a Terrazas Reserva Malbec 2007 and a Veuve Cliquot Demi Sec for desert.
But it seems that while exceptional dedication had been put into these pleasures of the palate, this was only a starting point as there weren’t just one –chef Anton Mosimann– two –Moët’s assortment of wines– or three –the Financial Times’ perfectly orchestrated programme– highlights, but truly a series of exceptional moments brought together from the cocktail all the way to its latest and most memorable one: just after desert, the speech by Mr Maurice Levy, which was a fascinating summary of what the media industry really is in the age of iPhones and iReporters (is this what I am myself right now? Or aren’t I just writing a summary iLetter to you on a Sunday morning? It feels like both), a summary of where the industry is going, and of how Mr Levy can already see in his position that the recovery after a long crisis is indeed thankfully a reality.
With a friendly and always welcome touch of irony, Levy went about the various aspects of the advertising, media and consumer industries at large, with a particular joke about the new “small companies” from the silicon valley becoming notably big, such as “for example Google or Microsoft”. New players are demoting the old players. Fascinating to me was Levy’s analysis of the phenomenon: Google is immediately international, by being online and available to all, while a newspaper like FT has to be translated and distributed through a full affiliattion process to become truly global — here was the secret of the new players. I, of course, as coming on behalf of a new player myself, immediately took note of fast tracking our future French and other language sections of SQUA.RE in the view of embracing such unique opportunities.
Indeed the media sector is shifting but for the sake of being fair and objective to Mr Levy, that did not prevent him from advising a luxury brand as part of a Q&A section to invest its full £1m advertising budget in print vs. online because of the power of its luxury feel. We hope to take some part of this luxury feel online however, today and in the future, and I believe we might as the FT probably invited us for a reason. But certainly the new players are not there to fully replace the old ones, but rather to co-exist with them.
Surely it was a unique moment, dinner and gathering of influential and highly interesting figures of our industry. We will always welcome an opportunity as this one. The world is indeed recovering and coming back strongly to its deepest values: quality, universality and positivism.