We were doomed. Climate change was killing all life on our planet. Our water reservoirs and all the other natural resources needed to sustain life as we knew it were nearly depleted. Our scientists saw no relief. They said that within the next two generations the planet would no longer be habitable.
I’d just flown in from Cambodia after a photo reportage job on diamond prospectors working the pipes in north country mines. It’s a hard-scrabble life for the Khmer miners. They’ve got to wriggle down in to the narrowest of tunnels where they dig through dust-belching red earth on ten-hour shifts for a meagre wage. Singapore’s airport is spacious and posh, and my connecting flight to Paris was still hours away. So, I grabbed my mobile and started tweeting, always putting the hashtag #singapore on every post. Sorry, forgot to mention that I’ve got quite a few followers, both at home in Italy and around the world.
I’m young, attractive and roam the globe on free-lance assignments. I’ve got friends scattered here and there on every continent. Routine. What wasn’t was the tweet received from the Marina Bay Sands resort. It was an invitation to visit and have lunch as a guest in one of the many restaurants it features. It surprised me at first. Then it dawned on me. This was sophisticated marketing. They monitor all the #singapore tweets posted and pick out those for influencer targeting. They see who you are and send an invite if your profile fits. They hope you’ll take a few pics of the resort and then tweet them to friends. It’s free publicity, or nearly so.
Not bad. Congratulations. I accepted. It was crazy. I went to the Air France desk, turned on one of my most-charming smiles, got the attendant to book me on a later flight and grabbed a cab. It was a one-off chance to see a masterpiece of Moshe Safdie, the architect who also designed the Holocaust Memorial and Museum in Jerusalem. I knew it was going to be an extraordinary sight and couldn’t wait to see it. Eye-opening is not the word. Even as we got close, I was dumb-struck. There they were: three 55-storey towers linked atop by a 10,000-square metre Sky Garden perched 200 metres above street level. The terrace held tropical gardens, jogging paths and 150-metre Infinity Swimming Pool.
The pool was my target. The receptionist greeted me with a warm welcome. Then I asked to go up and take photos of the pool. So sorry, Miss, but the pool is for registered hotel guests only. I’m sure you’ll understand. But you could book a suite now...I look at the prices, not for me, and smile. That was definitely not anticipated. A unique opportunity lost forever. I was about to say thank you and turn on my heels when the flash hit me.
A friend once told me that the resort had been built using a lot of Mapei materials for waterproofing, for the walls and floors covering and so on. Behind all the marble, Ardesie and bamboo was Mapei. The business diary that always travels with me is from Mapei. That friend gives me one every year. I took it out of my bag and non-chalantly let the receptionist see the logo.
Miracle. His expression changed instantly, as if he’d seen a diplomatic passport. He escorted me up to the pool, winked and said, ‘Miss Mapei, stay as long as you wish and see whatever you want’. My friends have called me Miss Mapei ever since. Now, whenever I’m between flights in farflung airports while continent-hopping, I expect an invite. So, what are you waiting for?
* A strategic move for product manufacturing in the Far East where local legislation can often be an insurmountable hurdle to outside businesses, the Singapore plant has enabled Mapei to secure hundreds of contracts throughout the Orient since it opened in 1989.