Anyone who has made it through Psych 101 will be familiar with the Five Stages of Grief. Today we’re going to focus on Stage One – Denial. It is ironic, because in the last 12 months Watch Town has already gone through the Five Stages from Denial to Acceptance and all of the sudden, with the panic laden announcements of several watch shows over the past fortnight, it just goes to show that FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) and the refusal to objectively look at reality can make for a dangerous combination. For those unfamiliar, or who spent more time staring up at the undersides of barroom tables, here is a quick refresher on the Five Stages of Grief and how some of the former mighty watch shows have attempted to navigate them – DENIAL –
For those of us who work with brands in brand management, we got to see this first hand this past March and April. Even when all of the signs were as clear as, well, this one –
Shamelessly borrowed from the worldwide infoweb
sales agents from the shows kept pestering brands to sign contracts and make deposits – even up to the day before the shows were cancelled.
Well, this one was mutual as hotels, airlines, and show organizers invoked the “Act of God” clause which loosely translates to – “Fuck you, pay me!”
And it was met with an equally emphatic reply from the brands:
“Hey, show organizer – Fuck me? Do you read lips? Fuck YOU!”
This was where airlines would let you re-schedule your flight (not refund), hotels decided that they would brand and retail owners feet to the fire and make them pay for rooms that they would never be able to use, and the shows tried various ham-fisted approaches to make it seem as if – “Hey, we really do care about you! We’re all in this together! We’re not giving you shit, and Jack just left town, so we think it’s only fair that you share our pain with us and even though we are not giving you anything, you should help mitigate our loss.” Which loosely translates to – we are going to minimize our losses by maximizing yours. Long story short? Not too many takers.
Really speaks for itself. This is where several venders and the shows wallowed in self-pity from the self-inflicted wounds they were now acutely feeling.
Shows cancelled not just for this year, but next year also.
So the dust began to settle, some big brands realized that, in fact, they would need to go heavy into shifting to the new reality and go heavy into direct to consumer models. A few mid-level brands still don’t really seem to understand this, so if there’s a model you’re looking for but the brand doesn’t seem to understand the new reality we’re living in? Just sit tight, you’ll be able to pick it up in the grey market soon enough ; )
But Watch Town is a funny place, where a lot of decisions are made without any real reflection. A few of these shows decided, after they said that there would be no show (and making it easier to receive and not return fees), that actually, they would have shows next year, with a new name, and in some cases – a new location! And it would be bigger, better and (to quote that other great commentator on the watch business, Kool Moe Dee) deffer than ANY watch show before or after!
So how ya’ like me now?
And had everyone been living in reality, watching the news, realizing that COVID-19 is not on any political or economic side, and is not going away anytime soon it is HIGHLY unlikely that most people are going to want to go near an airplane or a crowded, heavily populated, enclosed space with potential virus carriers from the four corners of the globe.