Expo Blog

The Expo Blog is a space for posts on the history, themes, legacies and experience of Expos. It includes articles from the BIE and external contributors.


The World's Fair Marketing Challenge

The World's Fair Marketing Challenge

Clearly, I haven't been keeping up with television technology lately.

It's great to see that Expo 2020 will not just be broadcast outside the local region, but be the highlight of a broadcasting advancement. Japan's HDK has announced they will broadcast Expo 2020 in 8K High Definition TV. (https://www.zawya.com/story/Japan_seeks_to_broadcast_Expo_2020_in_8K-GN_29012015_300112/)

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Expo 2015's Organizers Reveal a Hint of Things to Come

In 1999, 2004, 2009, and now 2014, I've had the opportunity to experience an Expo city within a year of its debut on the world stage. In all four cases (Hannover's Expo 2000, Aichi's Expo 2005, Shanghai's Expo 2010, and Milan's Expo 2015), you get the feeling that the city doesn't quite know what to expect just yet. In all four cases, much of what's going to happen in the next year is still a mystery. What is this big event that has been in the planning on construction stage for years?

One of the challenges for Expo organizers is communicating to the public what to expect. The organizers of Expo 2015 have taken the step of creating the Expo Gate, a preview center that's open to the public. The temporary landmark, created by Scandurra Studio, is situated just outside Sforzesco Castle, which was part of the site of the 1906 Universal Exposition. It will also serve as a ticket center, conveniently located in the center of town.

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Putting Myself in the Path

As I type this, I’m in a metal tube hurdling across Baffin Bay (between Canada and Greenland) on my way from San Francisco to Milan.

After having been to nine world’s fairs (1982 Knoxville, 1984 New Orleans, 1986 Vancouver, 1998 Lisbon, 2000 Hannover, 2005 Aichi, 2008 Zaragoza, 2010 Shanghai, and 2012 Yeosu), and reported on them in newspapers, magazines, and on television, I decided that the time was right for me to actually live in a city as it prepares to host an international expositions. Like a tornado hunter, I’m putting myself in the path this time.

As it happens, Milan’s legacy of design and education coincides well with my own career needs. For years, I’ve worked in graphic design in marketing departments, so I’ll be pursuing a graduate degree in Visual Brand Design in the coming ten months.

This year, as folks in New York celebrate the 50th and 75th anniversaries of their iconic world’s fairs and San Francisco prepares to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition, I’m hoping to bring attention to the medium as it exists today. World’s fairs are not dead.

Recently, America’s National Public Radio (NPR) featured a segment asking people the question “What would a world’s fair be like today?” Typically in reports like this, there’s at least a passing reference to the fact that world’s fairs still exist. They’re usually dismissed as not being as big or important as they used to be. Sadly, I think this is a symptom of the America-centric attitude we have: If they don’t happen here, they must not be important. By this logic, there hasn't been a Summer Olympics or a World Cup since the 1990's.

One of my hopes, while here, is to find a way to bring a world’s fair back to North America while bringing the excitement of Expo 2015 to Americans through the web.

Sending Your City to College

I'm often called upon to explain what world's fairs are and what kind of impact they can have on a city, a region, or a country. Here in North America, that can be a daunting task because generations have now grown up not having had the chance to experience a world's fair firsthand.

Not surprisingly, people focus on the economics of world's fairs. Do they make money?

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Emily Graslie on the 1893 Chicago World's Fair

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Opinions given by external contributors to the Expo Blog do not necessarily reflect the views and position of the BIE