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Time to stand up

Mash Media MD Julian Agostini says it’s time to stand up and smell the coffee

‘If I hadn’t seen such riches, I could live with being poor.’  A wonderful quote which, unfortunately, I can’t claim. Can you name the song/artist?

I’ll tell you in a minute, but for now can we agree that it’s hard to disagree with this sentiment in all parts of our lives. While financially most of us are still yet to ‘see such riches’, the statement will resonate with many things we can experience.

Let’s take coffee for example. When I first started working in the exhibition industry, decades ago, offices seemed to be fuelled by endless cups of instant coffee; neither the brand, strength nor quality appeared to be a big deal to the user. In some of the larger organisations, there was maybe a filter coffee machine with a constant supply of something stewed and dark brown; VNU even had a vending machine that pumped out school type hot drinks, which were considered a treat during free vend.

Now we are all coffee aficionados with our particular order, maybe it has to be a certain brand for some of us. The thought of returning to 1970s and ‘80s style coffee is completely unpalatable, in every sense. Coffee is no longer just a drink, it’s a daily experience that many covet.

It is with this thought in mind that we decided to postpone the EN awards in London until February 2021.  The Awards themselves are extremely important and we know that winners are keen to use this in their marketing, as they should. Buyers will take comfort in spending with businesses carrying industry accolades, especially in these times. However, it is also an event and an opportunity for our industry to do what it does best; network, recount a story face to face, build relationships, cement others and share a drink.

The thought of insisting that we all stayed in huddles of six (UK rules at time of writing); watched the ceremony and then disappeared home, felt completely empty to me, like a coffee from the ‘70s.  This would not have been the experience that the industry deserves, although I am also questioning the decision now.

I make mistakes every day, as I continually tell Mashites (or rather, they tell me), and I wonder if postponing the EN’s until February 2021 was actually the right thing to do. Why?

Our industry, more than most, needs the country to reset its thought process on this pandemic. The hysteria and fear have held a firm grip for months in the UK and in most destinations; so who better to break it than pioneering events people?

I have no doubt that if we had run the Awards, networking would have happened naturally as ever but we could have had controlled outside areas and facemasks, if that’s your preference, and allowed people to make a personal choice.  At some point we’ve got to be brave enough to return to normal life as this is like living in a box (no it wasn’t them), it was James and the track was Sit Down but, actually, it’s time to stand up!