Lessons Learnt from Diner En Blanc – Food is Meant to Unite, Not Divide
As the blogger directly involved in the Diner En Blanc incident, I am thankful of the many people who came up to support our local delicacies that we are so proud of, and the blogging community. The encouragement demonstrated by everyone makes me feel both proud to be a Singaporean and a blogger.
With that said, I have to emphasize what I have said in my earlier blogs posts: That I hope it is all a big misunderstanding and we should keep calm.
The organisers of Diner En Blanc has announced on their Facebook that “we would like to clarify that Diner en Blanc worldwide welcomes local food as can be seen in many international events both passed and upcoming. Menus in Barcelona, Mexico, Kigali for instance, all include local food.”
I consider that case closed.
From the Diner En Blanc online discussion, I feel I need to emphasize on three points:
1) Our purpose is not to incite any form of anger, whether it is towards the organisers or the French. We should not stereotype people based on perceptions and assumptions. Sorry, I do feel some of the online comments are really uncalled for. This may be a mistake or miscommunication made by a small group of people, and we should acknowledge that there are others in the organizing team who planned very hard for this.
2) There are many other groups of people who have started their own initiative or picnics – whether it is Diner En Noir, Eat Tau Hway Day, Makan Ho Chiak, Makan Day, or Super White. These are creative and fun, and celebrate the spontaneity of the online community. However, we should not set up ‘camps’ wearing all red or all black, near them, for any purpose to spoil the Diner En Noir event. The original spirit of Diner En Blanc is the celebration of life and togetherness, which I am fully supportive of. Also, let us be gracious towards our French visitors.
3) The majority of criticisms are targeted towards the PR agency, who is seen as a PR failure for ignoring social media and undermining bloggers. I do think they know what they are doing, and are aware of the consequences. I have always kept an open communication with the PR agency involved. All I can say is many PR companies have to follow the strict instructions of their clients (or they would lose their business), and all my PR friends can vouch for the number of times clients would go against their professional advice. Two lessons learnt: Clients should trust the experts to do their stuff; and bloggers should always keep a healthy relationship with the PRs (vice versa).
Let us show to the rest of the world that We Have Class. And Daniel’s Food Diary will emphasize: Food is meant to Unite, not Divide. Peace.
Update 1: The Head Organiser of Diner en Blanc Singapore Clemen Chiang has written an email to apologise and I have accepted the apology. Forgive and forget.
Update 2: From PR Agency THOX Pte Ltd, “This email serves to confirm that we have officially disengaged ourselves from working with the client (Diner en Blanc Singapore) as of last Friday 24 Aug 2012, due to a misalignment of views. We certainly look forward to working with you again on other events.”
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