Today I could have put my name in for the raffle on campus, but I felt that I’d be taking away something from a student if I were to win (not that I’ve ever won a raffle). And I’m not sure I needed the prizes: four Cartier handbags, not the $20,000 plus alligator skin one on display on campus this week, but rather the lower end$1,200 to $3,000 variety. That’s how we roll here in the Persian Gulf.
Amnesty International and the Humane Society don’t come to campus with their hands stretched for donations to support human and animal rights, as they do in the U.S. Cartier comes to campus, intent on proving its commitment to the young women of the UAE. They set up a salon with fresh flower arrangements worthy of any royal wedding, brought in knowledgeable and attractive sales personnel from one of their corporate offices, the doormen dressed in the red traditional uniform welcomed you to the campus’ main lobby, where the jewels, encased in glass boxes. In a generally brilliant marketing strategy, Cartier customizes its jewels for its target markets, including a special Arabian horse watch made just for the Gulf. And the stories of love and romance spun around the jewels for the students has been worthy of any Harlequin Romance. The stories were dreamy, as one girl described, wondering where the prince to her Wallis Simpson was waiting–and would he know about the Cartier love bracelet?
But these students are not so naive–they’re almost hypersensitive to luxury sales pitches, having been a logical target for them most of their lives. Nonetheless, the jewels were certainly pretty to look, very sparkly I must say, as was the 5 kilo book on the history of Cartier they generously gave out, a book whose printing is probably more expensive than any jewelry I’ve ever purchased.
(And not to beat up on Cartier –they did help fund an amazing exhibit of historical photos of the region that is going on a global tour, including one that shows Mr. Cartier himself sitting with the ruler of Bahrain, one of Cartier’s favorite places for collecting precious pearls, pearls that fishermen in pre-oil days often died retrieving for only a negligble fraction of the profits they would fetch in Europe.)