Communicate spoke with Sconaid McGeachin to learn how Expo 2020 has tailored its communication strategy to reconnect with the world this year.
With the Expo 2020 just 5 months away, Communicate spoke with Sconaid McGeachin, SVP of Communications at Expo 2020 to learn the reasons behind continuing with the Expo 2020 branding and how they have tailored their communication approach to reconnect with the world again. Sconaid McGeachin will be speaking at this year's MEPRA Leadership Majlis on this very same topic along with Expo has adapted to align with the rapid transition to digital life, work, and learning we saw as a result of the pandemic.
Why did you continue with the branding of the event as Expo 2020 instead of renaming it to Expo 2021? What were the reasons behind this decision?
Expo 2020 Dubai remains the 2020 World Expo, regardless of the year it is held. Expos, held every five years, are true to their time, and the fact this one had to be postponed to 2021, because of the impact of COVID-19, is a reflection of that. The world around us is changing profoundly as a result of this pandemic and Expo has adapted to meet the needs of visitors, media and participants . It will be a different event because of COVID-19 and keeping the Expo 2020 Dubai name adds a certain poignancy to it.
How did you navigate the postponement of the Expo from a communication standpoint?
Transparency and a regular flow of information to all of our partners and participants were central to our approach. The rules of the Bureau International des Expositions (BIE) require a two-thirds majority of BIE Member States to vote in favour of postponement. This was achieved within five days of the opening of the voting period thanks to a collective effort and the mutual recognition by all Member States of the need to postpone, coupled with clear information from Expo 2020 and the BIE about how we would continue to support participants to deliver an exceptional event after postponement.
The postponement was the right and responsible decision amid a turbulent time, but more than that, it gave Expo an even greater opportunity to bring the world together to build a brighter future, at a time when it is needed most.
What kind of communication strategies do you have in place to reconnect with the world this year?
Expo 2020 Dubai will bring people and communities together and our guiding purpose “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” is more relevant now than ever before. We have reflected this in our marketing strapline – ‘Join the making of a new world’ – which acts as a strong call to action, urging everyone to visit, enjoy, contribute and participate in Expo 2020. Why should they come? Because not only will Expo be an incredible, entertaining, unmissable experience, but it will also serve a higher purpose, uniting us, celebrating our achievements and inspiring action to help build a better future for us all.
Our message to ‘Join the making of a new world’ will be supported by an always-on stream of relevant, original and engaging content to drive interaction across all forms of traditional and social media, to bring to life the experience visitors will have at Expo 2020.
Our current focus is on building a sense of anticipation about the opening of Expo 2020 by ensuring our potential visitors have a clear understanding of what to expect when they walk through our doors.
Given the sheer scale of this Expo’s offering, it can be difficult to distill the entire experience into a simple piece of communication to which everyone can relate. Last month, we released a series of videos designed to give people a tangible sense of what to expect at our Expo; which we have done by breaking down the Expo offering into five easily understood and accessible themes:
As a communications team, our goal is to provide a platform for more than 200 participants, including 190-plus countries as well as multilateral organizations, businesses and educational establishments, to connect with visitors from all around the world to build bridges, inspire action and deliver real-life solutions to real-life challenges, summed up as - The Whole World in One Place.
Second, we explain how visitors will have the chance to discover exciting new ideas and innovations — summed up as The World’s Most Inventive Ideas.
Third, we want to excite people about Expo’s dramatic visual landscape — summed up as The World’s Most Inspiring Architecture.
Fourth, we are inviting people to join experts, leaders and businesses to become part of Unique World of Collaboration and Opportunity.
Last but not least, we’re putting on a phenomenal show every day; with breathtaking entertainment, events and live performances — summed up as The World’s Greatest Show.
In 2019, Expo 2020 Dubai conducted a global survey to explore how people across the world view priorities for the future. We are relaunching the survey in the coming months to create conversations on topics that matter to global audiences as they navigate a “new normal” in the new COVID-19 reality.
Could you talk about your communication strategy with the residents of the UAE?
The first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), and the largest event to be held in the Arab world, Expo 2020 is a point of pride for the whole region and an opportunity to showcase Arab culture on an international stage.
Citizens and residents across the UAE have embraced our vision for Expo 2020 Dubai and we were delighted to welcome more than 100,000 visitors to experience Terra – The Sustainability Pavilion – earlier this year. This also gave us the opportunity to demonstrate our rigorous on-site health and safety precautions, as well as providing an opportunity to test how we can best communicate these to visitors, including through our website, social media and across the Expo 2020 Dubai site.
Local media have also played a vital role in the success of Expo 2020 Dubai since its inception and we are grateful for their continued interest and coverage to inform readers across the UAE and beyond. They will continue to be key partners as we share more information about how we will keep all participants safe and deliver a spectacular experience for each and every visitor.