Blog: Simon WarburtonSuper-size dining a la Deutschland

Simon Warburton | 19 May 2011

"Come for lunch," said Shell today (19 May) at the Challenge Bidendum event at Berlin's magnificent Tempelhof Airport, "it's just behind our stand.''

Feeling very peckish I arrived at the stand expecting maybe three or four of the people Shell UK had invited to the German capital.

As I turned the corner however, I gave a sharp intake of breath - there had to be more than 2,000 people sat in one of Tempelhof's colossal hangars - I have never, ever seen more people at one sitting in my life.

And it wasn't just bangers 'n mash either - the nosh was on the decidedly decent side - perhaps only the Germans could pull off a catering stunt of that magnitude.

At the table was one of Michelin's senior representatives as well as Shell's newly-appointed chief scientist for mobility Wolfgang Warnecke. I went for safe ground and asked him what he drove imagining some enormous German machine - it turns out he likes British cars and drives a Lotus.

This event is far, far larger than I imagined and just one tiny element of it takes place this afternoon with a parade of Bidendum (or Michelin Man as we Brits call him) cars in front of the Brandenburg gate.

That gate appears to be almost compulsory for any new German - and some foreign launches - and provides an evocative background for any manufacturer to inject a bit of oomph into its launch.

I caught up with Opel's new CEO Karl-Friedrich Stracke this afternoon, while it appears his predecessor and now Opel chairman, Nick Reilly may be around tomorrow. Michelin CEO Michel Rollier and Shell downstream director Mark Williams are also here, so it's a pretty high-powered event.


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