Monday, August 27, 2012

So what's going on with Diner en Blanc now?

As a follow up to the last post about the Diner en Blanc controversy, I've since received an email from the host, Clemen Chiang.  In his email, he wrote that he had seen my blog and sincerely apologized if he had offended me in any way.  Their Facebook page has also been taken down, and has since been updating from the Diner en Blanc Singapore website instead. was actually never involved in Diner en Blanc in any way, blogger invitation or otherwise.  My editorial team and I were to attend Diner en Blanc on behalf of our publication (ie my paid job as professional media).  We still have intentions to cover the event, since it is our journalistic duty to cover Singapore on-goings.

Our original contact for Diner en Blanc was THOX Pte, the public relations agency handling the event.  We've since been informed that Thox has "officially disengaged [themselves] from working with the client (Diner en Blanc Singapore) as of last Friday 24 Aug 2012 due to a misalignment of views."

I will state some of my honest feelings about the fiasco. 
I'm not entirely offended by the original restriction of Singapore local cuisine.  If I was arranging for a Singapore Makan Day in France, I'd also prefer guests to bring dishes more suited for the occasion.  Same with the dress code - if a host is throwing a beach-themed party, you don't arrive to the event in a tux.  If I was going to a Slow Food pot luck, I sure as heck wouldn't bring ready-made food.

BUT... just as my previous post implies ("Major PR boo-boo"), the stupid part in all of this was how it was handled.  Huge blunder on the PR's side for bad wording... if there's one thing Singaporeans are particularly nationalistic about, it's the local cuisine!  Save for the actual Paris team, the Diner en Blanc Singapore organizers are Singaporean, or else long time residents.  I'm going to give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't actually think that local food is garbage.  I'm also not sure what the Indian-Givers situation (aka taking back a gift/invitation) is all about.  Perhaps it was related to the blog post that started it all, or maybe it was something else all together.  Either way, it was once again piss poor publicity handling... whoever it was who thought of that bright idea is probably smashing his head into a wall in shame - that or his boss is doing it for him.

If anything, my sympathetic side can't help but cringe on behalf of Diner en Blanc team.  After months of arrangements and media build up, any positive hype was all blown to shit just days before the event... simply by a thoughtless email and an indignant blog post.  The force of Social Media once again shows its muscle.  That stuff can make or break you.

I too have learned something from watching all of this happen.  All-white parties in Singapore must be bad luck concerning the masses.  From the People's Action Party (PAP) to Diner en Blanc, white just doesn't fly with the public!


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