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Wheels of change
Friday, 07 November 2008

Wheelsofchange.jpg "So, what are you doing here?" the man invites me to his breakfast table and I sit down with my little bowl of yoghurt-muesli-fruit. Big coincidence that the only other guests in the hotel breakfast lounge are Dutchies too: a group of five huge guys all working for newspapers and car magazines. They`re here for the Formula 1 races that take place in Sao Paulo this week and ping pong names of racers and car labels while I cling on to my mango.

"Tell us, what`s a young girl like you doing on her own in a hotel out here? Five pairs of eyes gaze at me expectantly."

"Wellluuhhh, I`m going to Biofach, a conference that brings together producers of organic food and clothes."

"Ahhhh, that`s the reason for that healthy breakfast of yours`, Kees grins while his scrambled eggs with sausage and bacon leave traces of fat on his chin."

"But what do you do?"

"I work in eco fashion." Question marks, frowning foreheads and half a smirk.

"Eco fashion? What the hell is that? A weed T-shirt?" one pokes, resulting in an outburst of laughter. Like I hadn`t heart that one before.

Another big guy in poloshirt enters the room and sits down next to me. Jaap turns out to be Chieftain of Heineken in Brazil and joins breakfast to update the guys on all Formula 1 VIP parties they need to attend.

"The heli won`t fly with this wind, but then we just take the limo to the Hilton," he says. "And yeah, don`t forget that the dresscode is black gentlemen." This remark brings Peter to the luminous idea of instantly erasing my invisibility.

"Jaap bro, may I introduce you to Kim? Kim does something with eco fashion, but what exactly?"Am I imagining it or do I see a glimpse of interest in his eyes? It gives me courage and I turn directly to Jaap.

"We organize the first Ethical Fashion Show of Latin America in Rio next year."

"That sounds familiar`, did you email me about this some time ago?"

"Right, but I never heart anything back from you unfortunately."

"Well I`ve sent that email to my marketing manager, but of course he receives so many of these requests."

"So how are you going to make up for that?" I blab out impulsively.

"Not." Jaap gives me a haughty look.

"But don`t you think it`s a great chance to spotlight Heineken for an innovator audience? Because green is the future don`t you think?"

"Are you crazy? We don`t do these kind of muesli things. Ofcourse we sponsor a party sometimes, but only when it fits our image of a cool brewery. Little things like a fashion show with some eco clothes, that`s not for us."

"What about launching an exciting new eco beer at the show?" is my last attempt to convince him of my Cause.

"I guess beer is pretty eco already. No we`re not going to associate ourselves with that niche eco stuff, thank you very much."

I take in and feel my assertivity slide underneath the breakfast table. It stays uncomfortably quiet for more then a minute and then Peter says: "I heart something about the Honda racing team switching to bio fuel. It seems that the trend you`re talking about is taking place in the Formula 1 as well."

My savior.

This story took place last year around this time but I thought about it while reading an article in P-plus magazine. The organisation behind the Formula 1 races, the FIA, has launched a Make Cars Green Campaign. The Japanese tyre company Bridgestone supports the campaign with marketing these green striped tyres that were used for the races in Japan in October.

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