Cannes: 15th March 2018
Something feels very different at MIPIM this year.
It's not just that the Côte d'Azur sunshine has been swept away today by heavy rain. The MIPIM boys in blue suits have discarded their designer sun glasses and scuttled into the infamous bunker.
Outside on the street, hawkers are trading umbrellas at €20 a shot. However, the only business are the MIPIM refuseniks - usually wealthy folk who are unwilling to pay the MIPIM entrance fee - and they are unlikely to part with cash for mere rain protection.
No, what feels different is Derby and, more specifically, how Derby is perceived.
Marketing Derby has been 'doing' MIPIM for 10 years and, to be honest, in the early days we felt like hickey interlopers.
MIPIM is a market where cities and regions parade their wares to the 25,000 delegates seeking opportunity.
Back in the day, a city like Derby - population 250,000 - struggled to get attention amongst the glitz and glamour.
But, we felt we had a case, a cause if you will, so we stuck to our task and came back, year after year, with a little more experience, nous and confidence.
This year, I feel we have passed MIPIM tipping-point.
We now rock up with a great team and a clever plan. The 25,000 no longer intimidate. We know how to play MIPIM, where to focus and then basically ignore the rest of what can sometimes be a circus.
We collaborate with our Midlands colleagues in an impressive pavilion, providing a platform and easy intro space for investors. Its design is professional, you might say almost cool, but the energy and buzz is tangible and never seems to fade. Derby has been central to making this happen.
Outside the pavilion, the Derby Embassy, now in its 10th year, has become a landmark event - completely oversubscribed to near breaking point - where we share our narrative and opportunities.
The star turn this week was Rolls-Royce outlining the scale and hi-tech nature of their massive Derby operation. The audience lapped it up. There is no better sales pitch for a city than to have a global company fly out a senior member to endorse the product.
Finally, Marketing Derby took the stage at a Financial Times gathering of 80 of Europe's top inward investment agencies.
We were the only agency asked to do so. Why? Because we are seen as being one of the most innovative in how we use data and intelligence to attract investors.
And that is basically the difference I started with in this blog. We no longer feel like accidental guests, gratefully taking morsels from the table.
We are now trusted and respected partners with a reputation for being open, honest and businesslike - and guess what, investors are liking that...