Bringing Switzerland to Tokyo
The project was extraordinary in that there was no allocated fee – Eat's remuneration and all costs had to be earned through a process of securing event sponsors. It was in essence a project founded and executed upon a shared client/agency 'belief' that Swissdays could be willed into fruition.
Crucially Eat took on the fund raising role – meeting and liaising with numerous Swiss brands both in Japan and Switzerland, from confectionery through to tourism and technology, and successfully brought in the required funding.
Swissdays was ambitious – introducing Switzerland to the Japanese public and a demonstration of shared national values kicking of a year-long programme of Swissness. It had to contrast traditional and contemporary values in ways that would be engaging and memorable to visitors of all ages and interests. Importantly, it was going to be a symbol of diplomatic relations to be opened by the President of Switzerland Didier Burkhalter.
From the outset Eat developed the event as a brand – defining the values and principles against which all aspects of the project could develop. The challenge was to generate a brand image capable of 'holding its own' not only alongside two powerful country brands but also a host of global brands and a ‘150 years’ logotype independently commissioned ahead of the Swissdays event.
Eat’s approach was to take inspiration from the most powerful of Swiss icons – the Swiss cross.
By changing the cross's scale and physical presence, the icon that was essence of Switzerland was transformed into a structural symbol with architectural scale. With typical Swiss precision the event image became informed by modular cubes. The layout of the venue itself was arranged within an imaginary square grid onto which six meter high three dimensional crosses would be positioned to form a core installation, a stage and sponsor booths.
Each cross was constructed from tubular steel piping covered with acrylic mesh allowing each cross to simultaneously operate as both sponsor booth and light show. Alongside the booths a large square stage was arranged to accommodate a range of activities and performances ranging from talk shows to Swiss wrestling as well as some of the best Swiss musical talent – including Eliana Burki and Bastian Baker. The centrepiece of the installation was a 10.6 metre high projection mapping screen onto which a specially commissioned 10 minute movie 'To the top of Europe' would be projected.
Another essential cultural engagement for the event was to introduce the Japanese audience to Swiss food and drink. Eat were instrumental in identifying, commissioning and installing the brands businesses that represented the very best of Switzerland's food and wine.
An event would be nothing without people and Eat partnered with PR agency Sunny Side Up, who were tasked with media relations. The media roll-out strategy started well ahead of the event and included a core website and Twitter campaign supported by Embassy actions such as the launch of their Facebook page and a media gathering. Combined with regular press releases on a wide variety of event related topics, we achieved media coverage that exceeded our expectations, with EAV of over US$1.7m.
And despite the heaviest snowfall in 120 years (ironically) threatening to scupper the event, people came – and in large numbers. A successful conclusion to many months of planning and development.