What do Hugh Jackman, Diane Kruger, Olivia Palermo, Natalie Vertiz, Rami Malek and Elsa Hosk all have in common? The answer is that they all rubbed shoulders with us at the UNICEF Gala Dinner in New York at the behest of Montblanc.
Let’s be honest, it’s not every day that you get flown to New York to attend a dinner, but that is exactly what Concierge was invited to do last month and the experience was nothing short of incredible, combining a star-studded attendance with a great and noble cause.
The partnership between UNICEF (United Nations Children’s Fund) and Montblanc is not new and the brand has been a consistent and generous supporter of UNICEF, raising more than US$10 million during its 13-year collaboration so far. However, what is new is their new CEO, Nicolas Baretzki, who we witnessed make his first public speech at the helm of the brand. He took over the top spot on April 1 from Jérôme Lambert who has assumed a corporate position within Richemont.
The “Big Apple” and the stunning Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, the main branch of the New York Public Library, was selected as the venue for the announcement as the city is the headquarters of UNICEF and the library is a landmark where thousands of people come every day to read – a privilege that may not be enjoyed by up to 75 million children that have their education interrupted or disrupted by global events.
Baretzki commented in his address that the UNICEF partnership reflects the core of the brand, striking a chord to “the meaning of writing instruments, the meaning of Montblanc and the power of words”.
The link between education and the Montblanc collection is subtle but clear. Baretzki explained that education could be looked at very simply – about learning to read and write, and learning the alphabets; and this is reflected in the Montblanc collections, which focus on six alphabets and the first letters of each. For each piece that is sold from now until the end of March 2018, a contribution will be made to UNICEF of at least US$1.5 million arising from three percent of sales against the new collections.
Brand ambassadors, friends of the brand and UNICEF supporters were out in force and we were delighted to be sitting with Rami Malek (better known as the star of Mr. Robot) during the dinner itself. He declared himself as one of UNICEF’s biggest fans and has consistently rallied support for the organisation in New York, where he is based.
All participants at the event were invited to make their mark on an interactive blackboard where they could share a message. Putting chalk to a blackboard and having this immortalised digitally was an intriguing approach to messaging.
Jo Bourne, UNICEF’s chief of education, Program Division commented on the partnership, saying that: “Education is a right and vital investment. Every one of us has an education story to tell. Our education stories shape who we become and the education choices we make for our children. It is an investment in a child’s future and contributes to healthier and more peaceful societies.”
We learned from her speech that 1.5 billion adults by 2030 will receive little or no education and UNICEF works across 155 countries to reach the most marginalised and work against this seemingly impossible tide. The organisation supported 15.4 million children and 330 classrooms with educational materials in 2016 and explained that with partners like Montblanc they can invest early and identify the children that can benefit the most.
Montblanc’s face of the brand is Hugh Jackman (who was a teacher before he was an actor) and he put the partnership into context in a short but captivating address where he said that it was a “win-win” arrangement, commenting that education isn’t a privilege, it is a right and referenced his pride at being an ambassador for a company that supports things that really matter.
The new Montblanc collection is now available at Montblanc boutiques in the UAE.