Lunching with an inward investment consultant last week, I was asked to debrief him on the overwhelming, over-the-top affair that is the MIPIM property investment event, which took place in Cannes in mid-March.
To call MIPIM a networking event would be a gross understatement: it is row upon row of exhibitor stands, laid out over multiple floors. It is breakfast briefings, luncheon briefings, afternoon networking receptions, evening cocktails and swanky dinner parties; it is yacht-hopping, card-swapping and elbow-rubbing for three solid days.
Having experienced MIPIM for the first time, my head was still spinning when my lunch companion asked me a question that stumped me. “So,” he said, eager for market gossip, “what did you hear that was interesting or exciting? What stood out?”
And that is when I realised that much of the week was a blur – and not just because of the free-flowing champagne. It was because the press releases and marketing messages had run together, and because most of
the cities, regions and countries represented at the event all wanted the same thing (investment) and all said the same thing (invest in us). They all spoke of moving up the value chain, boosting research and development, creating more high-value-added jobs, and on and on. It is not that these are not worthy goals – but if everyone is saying the same thing then no one gets heard.
It occurred to me, pondering my MIPIM memory lapse, that this is how fDi’s corporate readers must feel as they scan the global horizon for their next investment destination and try to wade through the sea of sales pitches from investment promotion agencies. The challenge for them is to somehow distinguish between what are often indistinguishable messages. I don’t envy them that task.
The challenge for investment promotion agencies, of course, is to stand out from the crowd – and, unfortunately, that takes more than hiring a yacht, serving free drinks and throwing great parties. Not that this MIPIM delegate is suggesting by any means they abandon these tactics altogether.