The latest instalment in our On Work / On Play series with luxury CEOs. This month: Mark Backé, CEO of Grand Basel
2017-present Global director of Grand Basel
2011-2016 Director of Brand Management, BMW Dielsdorf
2008-2011 Head of International Event & Experiential Marketing, BMW München
Q. What is your best and worst memory of your first job?
A. My first job as a young boy was cutting hedges in my grandfather’s company. The best memory (that I can tell you) was while I was cutting these hedges, one of the staff gave me a bottle of Coke, but the worst part was my mother did not allow me to drink it.
Q. If a fire broke out in your home, what are the three objects you would save?
A. If my loved ones and my dog were safe, I would save personal things like the picture my parents gave me for my 50th (wedding) anniversary, the photo album containing my family photos, and a box of love letters from my wife.
Q. If you were trapped on a deserted island for a month, which three celebrities would you like there with you?
A. I would love to chat with Audrey Hepburn about style. I would also love to have a chat with Albert Einstein. I think another guy I would have a lot of fun with would be George Clooney.
Q. If you didn’t have your current job, what would you do instead?
A. I would renovate houses and apartments. The story behind architecture has always fascinated me. Building something that lasts, and trying to make it beautiful, is such a gift.
Q. How are you expanding the digital presence of Grand Basel?
A. I think the mixture of the real world and the digital world is very important to Grand Basel. We have developed a special app which has a car recognition system for this first iteration of Grand Basel. When you go around [the exhibition], it’s very slick, and everything is reduced to the minimum. This is only possible because of the digital world. All the communication about the cars is actually based on the technology of this app. This can also be developed further. At the moment it’s an information system, but maybe tomorrow it will become a dialogue system. I’m sure there’s more to come.
Q. How important are Hong Kong and China in Grand Basel’s expansion?
A. They are hugely important. China, Hong Kong and the rest of Asia will become more influential on the classic car scene. We will see more vitality, as well as different aspects of what people want to collect, adore, like or consider beautiful. The classic car scene is set to become broader and more interesting as a result.
Q. What was the most inspired decision you made about Grand Basel?
A. The most inspired decision was when we saw the structure and the architecture. We said, “THIS is what Grand Basel is supposed to look like. Let’s try and actually build it.”
Q. What is your favourite car brand or classic car model, and why?
A. There is no such thing. There are so many beautiful cars out there, and so many beautiful designs, that I couldn’t even reduce it to 10. Aside from beauty, they all have a story, and they all have different aspects that make them interesting.
Q. What core strategies did you consider while developing Grand Basel?
A. It was important to combine the elements in a new way. It’s a trade show, but it’s a trade show that is selective about its content. It’s a trade show that works within an architectural setting that ensures the display of each car is unique. It’s dedicated towards the beauty of the cars, and benefits from the fact that we don’t want to see any ‘marketing pollution’ at the event. It’s an international strategy, and Grand Basel can happen in a lot of different places in the world, not just where it first started.