MIPIM didn’t sound like a fun week for Matt Fairman – but he found the fair’s Dunkirk spirit enlivening
How do you measure your effectiveness at MIPIM? There’s no exact way, but my favoured method is to tell a joke at the start of the conference and wait for the joke to be told back to you by a stranger. This year, I was intent on breaking the record.
I was dreading going to Cannes, expecting a malaise of miserable people staring into their glasses and preaching gloom and doom. In fact, it was like one giant group-therapy session where the sunshine and upbeat feeling (irrepressible when you are on the Riviera) won through. People talked to each other, business got done and opportunities presented themselves.
This is my first recession as a business owner and we have had our fair share of tough times over the past few months. I was delighted by the support I felt from everyone – it is a time when you realise who your friends are. There was a level of honesty about the place that only comes when everyone is batting on the same deteriorating wicket.
The events and functions that did run were more focused and considered. Pipers Projects did a great job with the London stand – it felt more spacious, perhaps because the numbers were down on both attendees and exhibitors, but it really benefited from it.
The conference was busy and, as is customary, one travels the stands in search of free gifts, alcohol, hospitality and, oh yes, business opportunities. Budapest is the new Moscow it seems, as their drinks reception edged out its rivals on several important key criteria – including the supply of face-numbing spirits.
There was only one song under the circumstances: I am the Resurrection by the Stone Roses
Later, as I ambled past an isolated pocket of magnificently drunk property agents on the way to Manchester’s excellent Hang the DJ party on Thursday evening, I came to the conclusion that MIPIM had been better this year than for some time.
The party was awesome, as prominent figures within Manchester and beyond, including Howard Bernstein, David Partridge, Nick Johnson and Simone Ridyard took turns on the decks.
Unfortunately for Manchester, French pensioners, usurped from the train earlier in the week, had finally made it back to Cannes and were intent on revenge. I was about to ‘go large’ from the DJ pulpit when they stormed the Bastille and demanded we wrap up the party with one last song, which Tom ‘Rock the Blox’ Bloxham graciously offered to me as my slot.
There was only one song under the circumstances: I am the Resurrection by the Stone Roses. A fitting dénouement in light of the market, the problems we’ve had in recent months – and the number of Mancunians
on the dancefloor. As the final track wound up, some tall bald bloke leant over the DJ box and shouted something at me. ‘The Welsh have found two new uses for sheep,’ he yelled. ‘Meat and wool?’ I shouted back and grinned – a new record of two days and four hours. Either people are talking more, or the jokes are getting better. It was the best MIPIM for us in 10 years, and we have the stats to prove it.
Matt Fairman is a MIPIM veteran and chief executive of design agency Smoothe