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Interview with Giancarlo Caratti di Lanzacco, Head of the EU Task Force for Expo Milano 2015

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Expo Milano 2015 is an incredible platform for countries and brands to showcase their innovation in the area of sustainable food production. For the European Union (EU), it’s a key opportunity to engage the public in its sustainable food production policies and global vision.

In a recent interview, Giancarlo Caratti di Lanzacco, Deputy Commissioner General and Head of the EU Task Force for the Expo Milano 2015 World Exhibition, Joint Research Centre (JRC), European Union, shared his experience of working with MCI to create a simple yet inspiring EU Pavilion Visitor Experience to engage people of all ages and nationalities.

Check out the highlights below:

What was the most innovative suggestion MCI has made and implemented for the EU Pavilion at Expo Milano 2015?

Thanks to MCI, the European Union was able to pick a theme for its pavilion – “bread and wheat”  –  which connects the EU member countries within the same history and tradition. The consortium then transformed this theme into a modern fairy tale which enchants both adults and children, balancing emotions and education with outstanding storytelling skills. This is a highly innovative way for the EU to communicate with its citizens, and something that is desirable for our institution. Video animation, interactive games, multimedia and multi-sensorial experience theatres, and digital totems all contribute to conveying the EU key messages on Food and Sustainability.

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How do the innovative concepts implemented align with the theme of the pavilion?

A set of fictional characters – Alex, a farmer, Sylvia a research scientist, and their dogs Alfred and Coco – were developed to tell their story via the short film and multimedia show titled “The Golden Ear”, thus guiding visitors through the experience with a personal touch. The result is a seamless onsite experience in a dedicated immersive environment, which helps solidify the emotional connections between brand and audience, for instance by inviting the audience to learn more about the EU policies on food and sustainability directly via the interactive zones and also through the use of gamification, for example by playing the game to make a sandwich with PDO (protected designation of origin), PGI (protected geographical indication), TSG (traditional speciality guaranteed) and organic products and foodstuffs.

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How did you ensure the 28 member states are recognised in the pavilion?

We feature clips of European citizens saying “hello” in different languages to the visitors and to each other. We cooperated with the nineteen participating Member States to create national bread-product “recipe cards”, for example focaccia for Italy, pita for Greece, baguette for France; and posters featuring Alex, Sylvia, Coco and Alfred visiting national landmarks, such as the Brandenburg Gate for Germany, Big Ben for the UK or the windmills of La Mancha for Spain.

What is the overall objective of the EU pavilion?

The objectives of the EU Pavilion go further than the visitor experience. In addition to “communication”, which is pursued with the narrative story of Alex and Sylvia and the associated social media communication campaigns, the EU has the “policy”objective to contribute to the discussion about solutions to the challenges of how to feed a planet with a rapidly increasing population under the constraints of scarce resources for water, land and energy; a negative impact of climate change on crop productivity; and the imperative to shift to sustainable environmental development. This is being addressed by over 200 events which take place in the pavilion, in Milan or in Ispra, at the main research centre site of the European Commission which belongs to the JRC.

Can you share some of the feedback received from visitors so far?

We have visitor guest books with hundreds of positive comments. Visitors liked the story and wished to express their feelings in the book.

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