We’re walking on the Waterfront Promenade around Marina Bay in Singapore. “All of this is built on reclaimed land,” I tell Anouk. “They even built a barrage to turn it into a freshwater reservoir, creating an additional water supply for the city, as well as a new lifestyle attraction.”
We carry on along the waterfront until we reach the Fullerton Bay Hotel. “Here it is,” I say, “this is where we are meeting Michael Roche, the executive director of the Singapore Grand Prix, the promoter of the Formula One race.
We take the lift to the Lantern rooftop bar and head for the lounge area. Here we find Michael, leaning on the railing and looking out over the bay.
“Enjoying the view?” I say.
“Isn’t it amazing?” he says as he turns to us with a smile. “I’ve been living here for quite some time now, but I just can’t get enough of it. The Helix bridge to the left, the ArtScience Museum, the Esplanade, the Marina Bay Sands Hotel…
“It’s a great setting for the Grand Prix race, isn’t it?” I say. “It looks like it’s made for the race.”
“It’s the other way round actually,” says Michael. “The race was brought to Singapore in 2007 to showcase the city to the world. It runs through the heart of the Marina Bay area, which means it takes in Singapore’s classic and colonial architecture but also modern skyscrapers and Marina Bay.”
“I see, so cityscapes play an important role in the event?”
“Absolutely,” says Michael. “In fact, we see it as more than a race: it’s become a lifestyle event in which the city plays a lead role. It’s an important component of the Singapore brand.”
“Interesting, so how do you cast your protagonist? How do you make her shine?”
“I like the metaphor!” Michael says with a smile. “Well, we have three main target groups: television viewers around the world, Singaporeans and visitors. There are important considerations for each group.
“First of all it’s important to know that we stage the race at night. This allows us to reach the largest viewing audience possible and that European viewers can also watch. And it’s a great way of showing off the city in all its splendour: we light up the circuit and the buildings and the effect on TV is spectacular. The night-time setting also means that we don’t have to disrupt traffic in this busy part of town during the day, so it’s a real winner in that sense.
“Ok and what about the people here in Singapore, how do you cater to them?”
“Well basically, we strive to make the race an unforgettable experience,” says Michael. “The fact that it’s a street race gives it an edginess and by now it’s got a reputation for being much more than a race. It’s massive lifestyle event, with nine stages, 350 entertainers and performers, and 60 bars and clubs and restaurants brought into the circuit. Over the years, we have staged concerts by international superstars such as Rihanna, The Killers, the South Korean band Big Bang, Justin Bieber, Tom Jones, Bob Geldoff and Owl City.
“Wow, talk about massive!” I say. “It sounds amazing, but it must be an organisational nightmare!”
Michael laughs. “A nightmare, no. A challenge, yes definitely. Every single year. But it’s also a dynamic concept: we’re constantly looking to improve and innovate, and as soon as one edition finishes, we’re already brainstorming and preparing for next year’s race.”
“It’s sounds like an exciting project to be working on,” I say. “Never a dull moment!”
Michael nods and smiles. “Actually, speaking of the next race: do you have any plans for the 21st of September 2014?”
Tags: Meeting Michael Roche, meeting Jonathan Hallett, meeting Jonathan Hallett in Singapore, meeting Michael Roche in Singapore, meeting Singapore Grand Prix, Singapore Grandprix, SIngapore F1, Singapore Formula 1, CoolBrands NextWorld Storytelling, CoolBrands, Storytelling, Around the World in 80 Brands, CBNWS, ATW80B, CoolBrands Around the World in 80 Brands7 March,2014