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EXPO Milan: Evaluation of its Success & Forecast of its Legacy

By Elena Zaco, Senior Account Executive, MSLGROUP Italy

The idea of an international community that discusses global issues is an old one, one that dates back to the eighteenth century. Throughout centuries this approach has never stopped influencing collective thinking, society, arts, education, international relationships, and so on. 2015 experienced one of these big global events, and its final judgment has been largely positive.

Hosted in Milan, Italy, EXPO 2015 was dedicated to the inalienable right to food of each Earth inhabitant.

Relying upon a pay-off that stated ‘Energy for Life, Feeding the Planet’, Milan experienced six intense months of exhibition – from May 1 to October 31 – with shows, roundtables, conferences, research presentations, influential statements about technology, innovation, culture, traditions and creativity, all of them linked to food.

With 148 exhibiting countries, the involvement of international organizations such as UNO, a variety of contributions and impressive foresight and vision from some of the biggest worldwide brands, the event saw more than 21 million attendees, well above the estimate of the organizing company. Also many influential people like Ban Ki-moon, Michelle Obama, 60 heads of states and Prime Ministers, among others, visited the EXPO.

Image source: Expo 2015 Milano

With respect to the EXPO, crucial questions to be evaluated by communications experts will be:

  1. What will the EXPO 2015 do for public opinion about worldwide events like these?

  2. Have the topics supported and exhibited at EXPO 2015 become more understandable?

EXPO Milan 01Let’s look at some figures that can help define a context. During the six EXPO months, social media and social networks recorded 6.2 million posts about the event, shared by more than 1.2 million users. On the other hand, after the closing of EXPO, a survey promoted by an NGO shows interesting results – half of the Italians surveyed aren’t much aware about hunger as a worldwide issue. According to 39% of the people interviewed, 1.6 to 3 billion of people are starving, while the UNO estimates that starvation is an issue for 800 million people. On the flipside, while there are 2 billion obese people in the world today, Italians believe that the figures are much smaller.

These figures, if only partially, demonstrate how the EXPO used to be often perceived as a great shopwindow promoting products, countries and brands. The challenge for the EXPO, and indeed other global change-making events like it, is to change public opinion to regard these events as generators of awareness and engines of intellectual curiosity.

Right to Food as a Universal Human Right

The Milan Chart, the final EXPO document, according to Italian President of the Republic Sergio Mattarella, “states the right to food and water as essential part of a wider right to life, a right that from now on cannot be disregarded when you evaluate the application of the universal human rights”.

A really wide communication effort is needed to inform, raise perception, and consolidate the EXPO 2015 heritage, which the Milan Chart could significantly help achieve.

This article is a part of MSLGROUP’s report The Future of Food Communications: Winning Share of Mouth in the Conversation Age.

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