Diner’s Diary

Michelin sponsorship: Hong Kong Tourism Board denies paying to use its name at dining festival, but admits deal with related company

City tourism chiefs say they have contract with Robert Parker Wine Advocate, in which Michelin has 40pc stake, to manage events and sponsorships for local Michelin Guide, but confidentiality clause prevents disclosure of its terms

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2017, 12:34pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 13 December, 2017, 2:14pm

In a recent blog post we reported on our interview with Claire Dorland-Clauzel, Michelin executive vice-president responsible for the company’s brands, sustainable development, external relations and The Michelin Guide, and a member of the group’s executive committee.

At first she confirmed an earlier report that quoted her as saying the Hong Kong Tourism Board sponsors the Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau – something the board had told us was not true. Later she came back to us to say that was not correct and that, in fact, it was private companies that sponsored it – businesses including Macau casino operator Melco Resorts & Entertainment, Mercedes AMG, Nespresso, cognac producer Martell and dining reservations website Chope.

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However, she did say that the tourism board paid Michelin for the right to use its name in connection with the Wine & Dine Festival held annually in October. We asked the board if that was correct.

It took more than 48 hours to get a reply – a spokeswoman for the board said it was waiting to hear back from Michelin before responding, to ensure it gave a consensus reply. How thoughtful, yet how odd.

In any event, we finally got our answer: the tourism board – which the Hong Kong government funds and whose members it appoints – said it doesn’t have any contract with Michelin for the use of its name for the Wine and Dine Festival. (The board also reiterated that it does not pay money to Michelin to sponsor its annual Hong Kong and Macau dining guide, and that it is not involved in the selection of restaurants.)

However, the board said it does work with Robert Parker Wine Advocate – a company set up by wine critic Robert Parker to publish his newsletter of wine ratings, but which he later sold, and in which Michelin this year bought a 40 per cent stake. (The Wine Journal published by Robert Parker Wine Advocate refers to that deal as a “union” of the company with Michelin.)

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The board’s spokeswoman said that, as part of the Michelin group, Robert Parker Wine Advocate manages events and sponsorships for the Michelin Guide Hong Kong and Macau. Cooperation with the company involved the board producing a supplementary booklet called Michelin Guide – Hong Kong Flavours.

Oh, and due to a confidentiality clause in its cooperation with Robert Parker Wine Advocate on the booklet, the length of the contract, and its financial terms, could not be disclosed.

The board’s denial that it bought the rights to use the Michelin name for the Wine & Dine Festival left us stumped. We went back to Dorland-Clauzel for an explanation, but there has been silence from her end.

Maybe she was too busy with the recent launch of the first Michelin Guide Bangkok late last week – but the silence is telling.