The Moodie Davitt ‘Roarport’
Highlights of an epic journey
Since late July, The Moodie Davitt Report has provided exclusive coverage of Wild Tiger’s Roar Trip, one of travel retail’s boldest CSR initiatives. We present some of the best moments of Gautom Menon and Paul George Vedanayagam’s adventure spanning 25 countries in support of tiger conservation.
On 29 July – World Tiger Day – one of travel retail’s most ambitious Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives began. The brainchild of Indian rum brand Wild Tiger, Founder and Chief Brand Officer Gautom Menon and Brand Creative Head Paul George V embarked on an epic 65-day ‘Roar Trip’.
Their grand idea was to drive from Kerala in India to Cannes, France, taking in 25 countries and 25,000 kilometres, and raising awareness for tiger conservation while promoting the duty free industry and Wild Tiger along the way.
They will arrive on the French Riviera on 28 September in time for the TFWA World Exhibition.
The Moodie Davitt Report, as the sole media sponsor of the adventure, has followed the journey every step of the way with the launch of a regular new section – The Moodie Davitt ‘Roarport’. Click for the latest update, which also includes links to our coverage of each day of the adventure.
It has been an extraordinary journey for Gautom, Paul and everyone who has contributed or who they have met along the way. We present some of the top highlights from the Roar Trip.
A roaring start
Sat in their trusty steed – the TRiger vehicle, a Tata Hexa – dynamic duo Gautom and Paul were flagged off by environmentalist and veteran roadie Meenakshi Arvind via a flag emblazoned with tiger stripes. At CMS College in Coimbatore, more than 1,200 students marked the start of the Roar Trip with a human formation of the number 4,000 in tiger masks.
In Hyderabad, Gautom and Paul met with the local brand of YI, or Young Indians, a highly progressive organisation of young Indian entrepreneurs wishing to converge, lead, co-create and influence India’s future. Young Indians is the Roar Trip’s official Support Partner and its members met with Gautom and Paul in every Indian city that they passed through.
The pair were also granted special rights to park beside – and capture photographs with – Hyderabad’s iconic landmark, the Charminar in the old city, a magnificent 16th century mosque.
Tigers who came to tea
The Roar Crew were able to capture some spectacular photographs as they arrived in Darjeeling – the stunning ‘Queen of the Himalayas’ and arguably the tea capital of the world. The pair also visited the famous Darjeeling Himalayan Railway, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and climbs through the mountains to an altitude of 2,200 metres.
Bridging the gap
The long-awaited land border crossing between India and Myanmar, the Indo-Myanmar Friendship Bridge, opened amid great fanfare last August. The Roar Crew’s symbolic crossing was captured in the below video. In Myanmar, the adventurers visited the Indian embassy; sampled some of the country’s legendary cuisine; and got to see some of its rich and diverse culture.
Gautom and Paul celebrated passing the 10,000 kilometre milestone on their journey as they crossed into China and specifically Xichang, known for its launch base for the Chinese space programme and as a beautiful tourism location with stunning mountains and lakes.
Warriors of light
Terry ‘Bravo’ Smith, Founder of US company Bravo Fashion, became the first sponsor and industry friend to join Gautom and Paul on a leg of their journey. When visiting the famed Terracotta Warriors in Xi’an, the TRiger proved almost to be a rival attraction. “We were mobbed everywhere and as special guests were introduced to Mr Yang Gaojian, one of the local farmers who first discovered the Terracotta Warriors in the spring of 1974 and shocked the whole world,” said Gautom. “He saw Terry Smith wearing his Bravo Fashion John Lennon-style sunglasses and asked where he could buy a pair.” The answer was, of course, in duty free.
Along the Great Wall
The Overhanging Great Wall, part of the magnificent Great Wall of China, provided a stunning backdrop and highlight as the Roar Crew made their way through China and along some of the path of the ancient Silk Road. True to the spirit of travel retail, the Silk Road connected the East and West and greatly influenced the development of trade and cultural ties between people and countries along the way.
Stranded at the border but captivated by the view
Gautom and Paul were almost stranded for the night at a border crossing as they tried to get from China to Kyrgyzstan – as it was shut. “We were stuck in no man’s land with no network, no food and very little water. The temperature outside was two degrees and we were prepping to spend the night in the car,” said Gautom. “But luck was smiling upon us, we managed to contact someone we knew in Kyrgyzstan and they urged the Ministry of Foreign affairs to open the gate for us. Twenty minutes later, we finished our border formalities and were roaring into the town of Naryn.” Once through, they had a breathtaking drive through the mountains and met with the locals.
Revelations in Russia
In Moscow, Gautom and Paul had an action-packed day taking in sites such as the Kremlin and the Red Square. There was also a more personal visit to the Indian embassy there. One of the earliest Indian Ambassadors to Russia was the late KPS Menon – a member of Gautom’s paternal family – who represented his country between 1952 and 1961. Mr Menon had been chosen by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, as the country’s first Foreign Secretary in 1948.
As they raced through Europe on their journey to Cannes, the Roar Crew ticked off many countries in relatively quick succession as they drove through Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Retail inMotion Sales Director Retail Liisa Rugele guided the Wild Tiger duo through Riga, taking in stunning parks, museums and other landmarks. In Vilnius, Lithuania, the co-pilots went straight to the city hall and parked the TRiger right in front of it – attracting a lot of attention, even if the legality of the manoeuvre was somewhat questionable.
Blazing a trail
‘Trouble Retailer’ André de Almeida, Managing Director Global Travel Retail of Loch Lomond Group, joined Gautom and Paul for the ride between Warsaw, Poland and Budapest, Hungary. In Budapest, the threesome headed for the city centre and to Szimpla Kert, a venue with a maze of bars and food options. A shot of Palinka, a traditional fruit brandy, proved the perfect way to end André’s short but sweet visit.
Gautom and Paul were not alone for long though as they were joined by Paul’s wife, Matilda (now known as T3), accompanying them for the final leg of the journey to Cannes. Zagreb, Bratislava and Munich proved to be exciting stops – while in Vienna the Roar Crew happened, “by sheer coincidence”, to run into the final day and hour of the Vienna Rum Festival.
The Roar Crew have met many travel retail companies along their epic journey, including Dufry, King Power International (Thailand), LS & Prestige Duty Free, China Duty Free Group, Regstaer Duty Free, Harding Retail and Baltona Duty Free.
ABOUT WILD TIGER RUM
Kerala-based Wild Tiger is India’s first rum to be produced from a blend of molasses and cane spirit. The rum’s velvet tiger print stripe packaging reflects the fact that no two tigers share the same stripe pattern – so the stripe design of the sleeve has been designed and cut to ensure that no two bottles are alike. Wild Tiger made its Indian travel retail debut in February 2016 and is now available in 53 countries.
ABOUT THE WILD TIGER FOUNDATION
The Wild Tiger Foundation is a CSR initiative by Wild Tiger Rum, which contributes 10% of its profits to the cause. It is a registered non-profit organisation headquartered in Coimbatore, Tamil Nadu, India that focuses on the conservation of the tiger and its habitat by raising funds and creating awareness. It was founded in 2015 by drinks entrepreneur Gautom Menon and Coimbatore-based businessman Suprej Venkat.
The primary focus is the conservation of tigers and their habitats within the state of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu, specifically Parambikulam Tiger Reserve in Kerala and Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu. Wild Tiger Foundation acts as an influencer and an enabler.
India had around 100,000 tigers in the mid-19th century. Today it has around 2,200, underlining the urgency of the conservation cause.
HOW TO SUPPORT THE WILD TIGER ROARTRIP
Account Name: Roar Trip WTF
Account No: 6766903189
Bank Name: Indian Bank
Branch: Sivananda Colony Branch, Coimbatore – 641 012, Tamil Nadu, India
IFS Code : IDIB000S075 / SWIFT: IDIBINBBCBE
Please encourage your colleagues, friends and family to consider doing so.
The Moodie Davitt eZine
Issue 268 | 26 September 2019
The Moodie Davitt eZine is published 20 times per year by The Moodie Davitt Report (Moodie International Ltd).
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