Buyers liable to more meetings at MIPCOM

MUMBAI: The weather report has been accurate about Cannes – clear weather, cool to warm temperatures and loads of golden sunshine. Whoever can, makes sure to step outside the massive Palais Des Festivals, venue for MIPCOM 2006, to soak in the bright sun bouncing off the clear blue sea.

Colorful canopies dot the beach and it seems so right to conduct business there instead of indoors underneath all that artificial lighting. Fremantle Media has large white tents hooked up right on the beach and some others are working from their sparkling yachts; but the majority have interestingly done up booths inside the large cavernous Palais.

It’s Day 3 of MIPCOM and my pace has not slackened; I was hoping to be able to catch my breath after two hectic days but being a buyer makes one liable to more meetings – everyone wants to meet you!

The market is busy, vibrant and exciting. Some of my meetings have been so much fun, like the one with JJ from Paramount. JJ is witty and sharp and her tongue in cheek comments had me laughing through the meeting. I enjoy such informal meetings that are not strictly business!

Most companies didn’t react very well to the fact that I come from India. One of my meetings with such a company opened with the comment, “I hate being rude; I don’t like myself when I am like that but Indians tend to bring out the worst out of me.”

Taken aback, I responded that this sounded suspiciously like a threat and I was expecting him to pull out a gun on me next. He apologized profusely but went on to relate horrifying tales of his experience with Indian buyers – the screeners he sent, turned up as pirated VCD’s in the Indian market!

At that, I held up my MIPCOM badge that stated my company name in bold – Sony Entertainment Television India. And I was flooded with apologies again! But such stories abound and it’s a shame that this is the reputation we carry abroad. As an industry (and proud Indian businessmen and women), we will have to do something about that!

Day 1 culminated in a grand opening party at the beautiful Majestic Barriere, situated on the Croisette. All of MIPCOM seemed to have descended there and the place buzzed with hundreds of people unwinding after a packed first day. Different rooms had been decorated according to different themes.

There was one with a “Bollywood” theme too, dressed with Hindi film posters and bathed (strangely) in red lighting. The food served up was passable Indian fare and we decided to give it a miss. In the next room, the Prisonbreak party was being conducted noisily. And with our glasses of champagne in hand, we gravitated towards the loud cheers. We were just in time to catch the good looking cast of the show, who made a hasty appearance before they disappeared as quickly. Someone should buy this hot show for Indian viewers! Hmmm… wouldn’t be surprised to catch it on AXN or Star World one of these days!

Day 2 ended in a pleasant cocktail aboard the Buena Vista yacht. It was beautiful to be out under the stars, sipping wine after a long hard day, looked after by our generous and charming hosts. The Buena Vista and Disney folks from abroad are only saying good things about India at the market. Clearly, they’ve based a lot of their growth expectations on Rajat Jain and his team at The Walt Disney Company India. The FTV boat along side attracted much attention with scantily clad models and loud music. Good to see that their promotions at the trade show are consistent with what their channel offers us!

As I rest my tired feet for a moment, I ponder on how hard it is being a buyer. You get run off your feet in the huge venue and sometimes the meetings are so close, that you skip meals as well!

Next time, I promise myself, its only running shoes for me.