Client Story, DIT

How we made an indelible impression at Expo 2020 Dubai

It’s difficult to articulate the scale and complexity of Expo 2020 Dubai, but here goes:

World Expo has been held every five years since 1851, and this one – delayed by 12 months – was the largest global gathering since pre-pandemic times. A mammoth six-month international showcase of innovation, creativity and collaboration, where 192 countries assembled in Dubai to celebrate the progress, values and qualities that define and bind us.

For Bray Leino Events and the Department for International Trade (DIT), the challenge was to imagine, create and deliver an unforgettable show, highlighting the UK’s best people, places, technology, film, sport, music, food, and fashion.

The stage: UK Pavilion

Over the duration of Expo 2020 Dubai, the UK Pavilion would welcome over 5,000 visitors every day, and its iconic design made it the most instagrammed structure on the vast Expo campus.

Inspired by UK physicist Stephen Hawking’s ideas about how humanity might express itself to other advanced civilisations, the building featured AI-powered poetry and invited visitors to ‘see things differently’.

With spaces for all manner of events, from galas and art exhibitions to intimate meeting rooms and panel discussion stages, this incredible venue became the setting for a wide-ranging event programme across the full six months of Expo. Take a virtual tour of the UK Pavillion.

The show: Creative programming & epic logistics

To showcase the UK’s best and brightest across a schedule of live events, we designed a programme around eight ‘Breakthrough Moments’, addressing fundamental questions about the future for people in the UK and the world.

How will we live? How will we learn? What will we eat? What will we wear? How will we thrive, advance, travel, and create?

Over six months, we hosted over 300 separate events, delivered live and virtually – from expos and meet-and-greets, to panel discussions, summits, conferences, theatre recitals, concerts, ministerial and royal visits, the wildlife Photographer of the Year exhibition…. also, a music festival.

Against the ongoing disruption and uncertainty of Covid, we orchestrated the travel, security and logistics for – among others – artists, musicians, sporting stars, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Band of the Royal Cold Stream Guards.

And that wasn’t all. We arranged special programmes to mark Commonwealth Day, St Andrews Day and St David’s Day, hosted a programme of events to mark ‘Invest in Northern Ireland Day’. And we were one of only a handful of countries to take over the entire Expo campus for our national day. Read about Expo 2020 Dubai #UKNationalDay.

Our mission marketing group sister agency Speed promoted the entire programme to the world’s media, highlighting the people and voices involved through a complex, multi-channel campaign, and secured a global media reach of almost 19.7 billion – including prime-time slots on CNN and This Morning.

The outcome: Promoting solutions for a sustainable future

From the evocative architecture of the UK Pavilion to the festival of culture, technology and creativity we delivered on an almost daily basis, the UK made an indelible impression over the six months of Expo 2020 Dubai.

Behind-the-scenes shout out: Special thanks to all the Bray Leino Events team members who spent weeks, even months, in Dubai to make sure this epic project could be delivered seamlessly. Account Director Nick says his dog doesn’t recognise him anymore… It was hard, but we achieved something special.

We hosted school groups, innovators, businesses, athletes, politicians, international dignitaries, royals and VIPs. Over a million people visited the UK Pavilion, where we promoted home-grown UK innovation, art, creativity, and solutions to some of the world’s most pressing challenges.

The programme was a vehicle for us to emphasise the UK’s standing as a leader of creativity and a prime destination for international investment.

Pep Guardiola at UK Pavilion Dubai