Saturday, October 18, 2014

Maria Sharapova's Sugarpova Sweet and Sour Candy Launch


I'm on the home stretch of my first kids' novel but I'm suffering from writer's block on my penultimate chapter.  So to clear my head and get some fresh perspective I decided to take a walk. As I walked past Robinson's at Heeren Building, I noticed a makeshift candy store. Hmmm...strange place to be selling candy, I thought.
But then it turned out that Maria Sharapova was due to be there to promote her signature line of candy: Sugarpova.



Sharapova, a paragon of health and physical fitness was in town hawking of all things--junk food? Shocking, Incredible, Unbelievable!  Ok, a portion of the proceeds from each purchase goes to the Maria Sharapova Foundation for helping children around the world, a worthy cause! I suppose candy is more synonymous with kids than carrot and celery sticks.

So of course I bought three packets of Sugarpova and, in the process of doing so,  I met Tim, Dorothy and their soon-to-be five-year old daughter Gabby who is a huge Sharapova fan. They kindly saved my spot in line while I rushed to print one of the photos I took of the tennis ace on her last visit to Singapore, hoping to get it autographed. Yes, of course I had to print one out for Gabby as well. We were later repeatedly told she would only sign packets of her Sugarpovas.



Now, the promotional flyers stated that Sharapova fans would have to buy a minimum of three candy packets in order to get her autograph and the tennis star would sign one packet of candy per person. As there are three members in their family it's perfectly reasonable that Tim and Dorothy expected that they would each get an autograph. But  when it came time to get inline, the organizers refused to allow Tim in the queue, saying that he had to buy another three packets. What?


Sharapova at the Fullerton Hotel, Dec 2007


How completely absurd! Furthermore, even though there were three of them, they were informed they could only get one packet signed.  So much for the one packet per person policy. So Tim had to buy another three packets just to get in line to join Dorothy and Gabby.

I understand the need for crowd control, but the flyers should also have been edited correctly e.g "Purchase of three packets of  candy entitles one customer to one autographed  packet." How hard is that to state? Simple and to the point. Saying it's limited to one signed packet per person is incredibly misleading. Also for fans who reallt want to collect autographs candy packets aren't the most ideal things to have signed. Couldn't they have provided publicity photos as well?




Anyway throughout the lead-up to Sharapova's appearance we were repeatedly told that she would be only signing packets of her candy and nothing else and that she wouldn't be posing for selfies.

While waiting for her,  members of the crowd were selected for some quizzes. Unfortunately only a few of those questions were tennis related. Though her appearance was slated for 6:30pm  she arrived about an hour later. 




And when she did arrive, Sharapova  did a couple of interviews before taking to the stage to sign her candy packets. I was ushered on and when I brought out a copy of Lion Dance to give to her, one of the event people said: "She won't sign that. Only the candy packet."



I replied. "I'm giving it to her as a gift." Sharapova thanked me for the book and then she  signed my candy packet and I was ushered off the stage!


Gabby and her autographed photo

But when, Sharapova spotted Gabby holding the photo of her, she said "I'll sign that!" 

Tim and Dorothy got their packets of candy signed as well but they didn't get a photo. When we checked the next day's papers we saw that there were fans who were taking selfies! Unbelievable!


My autographed candy packet. Yes, I've finished it!
In terms of events, it was success because they made a lot of sales and they attracted a huge crowd, but the situation with Gabby and her parents could have been handled a lot better, customers could have been given mini flyers  or promotional photos to be autographed instead of candy packets. Lessons have to be learned. I suppose I could say the event was pretty much like Sharapova's candy: sweet and sour.  

I hope fans had a better experience at the Porshe event that Sharapova graced the next day. I wonder if she was only signing Porshes and if they were limiting it to one signed Porshe per person?












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