The Moodie Davitt Roarport
The Moodie Davitt Report is providing exclusive daily coverage of Wild Tiger’s Roar Trip, one of travel retail’s boldest CSR initiatives, via our special line extension, The Moodie Davitt Roarport.
Via phone and social media, we’ll be with Gautom Menon and Paul George Vedanayagam on every stretch of their epic 65-day road trip from Kerala to Cannes and be there to greet them on the French Riviera when they arrive on the eve of the TFWA World Exhibition. We are unlikely to be alone. More news on that coming soon.
Duty free retailers: If you’d like to meet Gautom and Paul along the way (see their destination course below) let us know at Martin@MoodieDavittReport.com.
EUROPE. “Yes we Cannes!” Those were the exuberant words of Wild Tiger Rum Founder Gautom Menon as he and co-pilot Paul George V hit the road on the final day of their epic Roar Trip from Kerala to Cannes.
Tonight (Saturday, 7.30pm at Ma Nolan’s pub in Cannes) Gautom and Paul will be welcomed warmly by the travel retail community at what promises to be a rum-bunctius celebration, dubbed ‘Roarviera’. The Moodie Davitt ‘Roarport’ and many others will be there to greet them.
Here we update you on the Wild Tiger twosome’s near-final adventures.
Gautom and Paul started the day with breakfast at the unique and memorable place Brownies & Downies, a café in the cozy town of Breda in the Netherlands. Neatly, the café only employs staff with Down’s Syndrome. “It’s an initiative we truly embrace even at our Wild Tiger distillery back home,” comments Gautom.
“Equal opportunities mean everything to us.” [And to me, Gautom, writes Martin Moodie. My adopted brother Al, now 50, back in New Zealand has Down’s Syndrome. He has been a loved part of our family since he was three months old.] “Needless to say, the service was great and the club sandwich delightful.”
From the Netherlands they drove across the border to Antwerp in Belgium, where our tigerish twosome took a stroll around the city centre, taking in of course the iconic Central Station. They had hoped to catch up with the ebullient Nathalie Roelands of Duty Free Global, but alas she was away for the day. On Nathalie’s recommendation, however, the pair visited the famous Port House, where with their irresistible and infectious Indian charm they convinced the authorities to allow the TRiger to be parked in a prime spot in front of the flags.
“It was purely coincidental they had an Indian flag which fluttered proudly and we made PURRfect use of the opportunity to take some pictures,” says Gautom, reaching valiantly for his 347th bad tiger pun of the whole Roar Trip.
Next step was Brussels, no doubt expecting some good conversations to sprout. And indeed they did as Gautom and Paul caught up with Julie Lassaigne from the ETRC, who does such good work for the travel retail industry.
Julie showed the Wild Tiger travelling troupe around Grand Place where they took some equally grand images and also indulged in some Belgian Waffles – no, not a lot of long meandering conversations but a local favourite delicacy.
“Waffle I do after the Roartrip is over?” wondered Gautom.
Naturally the pair took a photo of the famous ‘peeing boy’ (Manneken Pis), before heading into a local bar where Julie introduced them to some of the best of Belgium’s many famous beers. “Tiger 2, aka Paul, has tried out one beer from every region and country,” Gautom points out. “I am more a spirits guy, Rumaican to be specific.”
Naturally the beers were soaked up by that other great national speciality – Belgian fries. Gautom and Paul managed to eat the lot, confirming once again that you can always rely on the Wild Tiger teamd when the chips are down.
Another day, another country, number 23 of the Roartrip to be precise. First stop was luxury glass bottle manufacturer ‘Saver Glass’ based in Feuquières. “We were there to meet their team and explore packaging options for the future variants for Wild Tiger Rum,” explains Gautom. “We aim to thrill consumers with something extraordinary in time for the year of the Tiger in 2022.”
After lunch they headed straight to the city of love, Paris. There, that love god himself, Sunil Tuli, Managing Director of King Power Group (HK) Travel Retail & Duty Free – a fellow Indian – hosted them at an upscale hotel on the Champs-Élysées. Asked about the choice of hotel, Sunil, not averse to a bad pun himself, said, “That’s because they are a couple of champs.”
After a brief catch-up with Sunil, Gautom and Paul had a French rendezvous with Lagardère Travel Retail, whose home is adjacent to the Arc de Triomphe.
Gautom takes up the story. “Whilst we were looking for somewhere to park the TRiger [a Tata Hexa -Ed], we were identified by a gentleman who approached us and said ‘I’ve been following your Roarport on The Moodie Davitt Report!’
“It was such a surprise and the gentleman turned out to be Louis Dambrin – CEO of Duty Fly Solutions (a subsidiary of Lagardère Travel Retail). He, Roger Abi Jaber and Caroline Doq from the Duty Fly team just happened to be there that day at the group offices and we were fortunate to see them.”
On the eve of their very own triumph, of course, the Wild Tiger team couldn’t resist the opportunity to have their photo taken at the Arc de Triomphe. So they pulled up close in the TRiger and had a picture taken with Lagardère Travel Retail team members who were rounded up by Vanessa Miremont and Alexander Twose from the retailer’s brilliant communications team.
After saying their fond farewells, the pair headed to the offices of the Roar Trip’s newest supporter, Air India. The national carrier has helped the Roar Crew by offering them business class seats back to India, allowing Gautom and Paul to fly home in style to conclude their momentous trip. “Air India embraces our initiative to save the beloved national animal from extinction,” Gautom points out. “We were joined by members of their Paris team (Michel, JC Hermet and Mr Jain), a reception which touched us deeply.
“After this we managed to get some great shots at the Louvre and the Panthéon. In some images the Eiffel Tower can be seen too.”
Sunil Tuli is, of course, not that easily shaken off. “I’m going to tame that TRiger,” he roared, jumping behind the wheel like a crazed Indian Inspector Closeau and thus becoming only the third travel retail industry friend to get a ride in the now legendary vehicle. “Finally, I have earned my stripes,” he told The Moodie Davitt Roarport.
Sunil’s erratic driving style – best described as tuli, madly, deeply – put a few years on Paul’s and Gautom’s lives but they somehow managed to cruise around the Champs-Élysées without incident and found a great spot to paws near the Arc de Triumph.
Now it was time for another close encounter of the travel retail kind as the threesome caught up with the wonderful Catherine Bonelli of Paul & Shark, affectionately dubbed ‘the dancing queen’ by Gautom but in honour of this trip renamed the ‘Tigress Shark’.
Catherine had suggested the quality quartet catch up for dinner at La Corte, an upscale, family-run restaurant and favourite of many celebrities and stars including Maria Sharapova, who tends to make quite a racquet if she’s not served fast.
“This cosy place, which is always in high demand and requires prior bookings well in advance, blew our minds,” Gautom reflects. “We’ve never had such exquisite Italian food before, and, combined with the company of Sunil and Catherine, it was a memorable evening.
“Catherine’s infectious charm and Sunil’s warmth and humour (you call those bad jokes humour Gautom? – Ed) in a way epitomises the persona of the travel retail industry. They literally caught the Tiger by its tale on the third last day of our journey.
“If we were more prudent as a company we would have chosen to drive to BCB Berlin [a key on-trade exhibition -Ed] instead of Cannes but for us it’s all about the people and relationships, so Cannes and TFWA as the end destination was a no-brainer.”
After dinner, the four walked back to the TRiger. Where had they parked? Without knowing it, right outside Catherine’s house.
Next morning saw a 5am start from Paris to Milan en route to Geneva, Switzerland to meet with cruiseline retailer MSC. “The drive through the alps was stunning beyond belief,” comments Gautom. More peaks, as it were, in a journey full of them.
“We were greeted in Geneva by MSC Head of Retail Adrian Pittaway in front of the MSC Cruise offices and soon joined by many of his peers, including liquor buyer Benjamin Janot.
“The MSC team had plenty of questions for us and a lot of praise too. We primarily agreed to carry on the conversation and more importantly the partying in Cannes.”
It was time to hit the road again and next pit-stop was the fashion capital of the world, Milan, where the main agenda was a meeting at Pirelli, the Roar Trip’s tyre sponsor.
“We presented to their sustainability and communications team on the kind of terrain we have endured and conveyed first hand that Pirelli tyres helped us a great deal through tough roads,” says Gautom. “The Pirelli team told us that this is the wildest initiative they’ve supported and also promised a reward in the form of a new calendar for 2020 – the most talked-about and sought-after calendar of course.
The pair visited the magnificent Milan Cathedral, Duomo di Milano, and then what is arguably the world’s most glamorous mall: Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II.
“The folks at Pirelli suggested a pizza place for us to dine; and we did just that at Sobrilo, a Milanese favourite (as the old Vera Lynn song goes, Veal meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when). Then we ended the evening with the yummiest gelato we’ve ever had at Amorino.”
Day 64 – onwards to Cannes (one day early)
“It’s our final day now and we are roaring our way into Cannes with a stop in Monaco,” Gautom tells The Moodie Davitt Roarport this morning over WhatsApp.
“It had been kindly suggested by Martin and Rowena [Holland, owner of PR agency Essential Communications] that we reach Cannes by Saturday evening, instead of Sunday as originally planned, in time for the ROARviera part. Therefore, we made some changes and did a lot of extra daily road time to ensure this.
“What’s really crazy is that eventually we will have done nearly 28,000 km in 64 days. Woot Woot!
“Yes we Cannes!!”
The Roartrip continues. But not for much longer.
*Footnote: A special Roar Trip welcome has been arranged for the Wild Tiger team in Cannes on tturday 28 September from 7pm. Attendance is strictly limited and subject to invitation. If you would like to welcome Gautom and Paul to the French Roar-viera in style, please email Martin@MoodieDavittReport.com
##RoarTrip, #Roarforourtigers, #KeralatoCannes, #WildTigerFoundation #TigerConservation
HOW TO SUPPORT THE WILD TIGER ROARTRIP
Via the official website – www.roartrip.in
Account Name: Roar Trip WTF
Account No: 6766903189
Bank Name: Indian Bank
Branch: Sivananda Colony Branch, Coimbatore – 641 012,
Tamil Nadu, India
IFS Code : IDIB000S075 /SWIFT: IDIBINBBCBE
Please encourage your colleagues, friends and family to consider doing so.
En route to Cannes, the daring duo will be meeting up with other travel retailers. Those wishing to ‘meet and greet’ them are encouraged to make contact. Yes, Gautom will be checking his email: email@example.com
EARLIER ON THE WILD TIGER ROARTRIP…
#RoarTrip, #Roarforourtigers, #KeralatoCannes, #WildTigerFoundation #TigerConservation
ABOUT WILD TIGER RUM: Kerala-based Wild Tiger is India’s first rum to be produced from a blend of molasses and cane spirit. The rum’s velvet tiger print stripe packaging reflects the fact that no two tigers share the same stripe pattern – so the stripe design of the sleeve has been designed and cut to ensure that no two bottles are alike.Wild Tiger made its Indian travel retail debut in February 2016 and is now available in 53 countries.
ABOUT WILD TIGER FOUNDATION (WTF): Wild Tiger Foundation is a CSR initiative by Wild Tiger Rum, which contributes 10% of its profits to the cause. It is a registered non-profit organisation headquartered in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India that focuses on the conservation of the tiger and its habitat by raising funds and creating awareness. It was founded in 2015 by drinks entrepreneur Gautom Menon and Coimbatore-based businessman Suprej Venkat.
The primary focus is the conservation of tigers and their habitats within the state of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, specifically Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in Kerala and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. Wild Tiger Foundation acts as an influencer and an enabler.India had around 100,000 tigers in the mid-19th century. Today it has around 2,200, underlining the urgency of the conservation cause.