Jenny Chan 陳詠欣
Jun 18, 2015

Shanghai seizes chance to enhance 'soft power' with Expo Milano

MILAN - The city of Shanghai has embarked on its global branding push at the Expo Milano 2015 with an elusive aim to enhance its global soft power.

Shanghai is aiming for a clearer 'emotional identity'
Shanghai is aiming for a clearer 'emotional identity'

The aims, according to the Information Office of Shanghai Municipality, are to "amplify a new modern vision of Shanghai, boost its cultural influence, and communicate its true emotional identity".

The campaign assets to achieve those aims, developed by RTG Consulting, are a little more palpable: a slogan “Shanghai. Let’s Meet!”, a pop-up pavilion at the Sino-Italian Centre of the expo, as well as various installations and exhibitions alongside the pavillion all shaped to showcase Shanghai’s heritage as a place of cultural convergence.

Zhu Yonglei, director general of the Shanghai Information Office, said “Shanghai has always been open to the world. Our city has such a rich history of intersecting cultures and perspectives, which still remains true today. We believe that amazing things happen when these perspectives and cultures meet and that’s what we want to champion through this new global campaign.”

Domestic Chinese brands have also associated themselves with the campaign, with Union Pay, Maysu, and Bund Finance Center (BFC) a few of the major sponsors. This marks the first time the Shanghai city has introduced an international brand identity formally.
Angelito Tan, RTG Consulting's partner and chief executive explained the thinking behind the campaign to Campaign Asia-Pacific.
"Paris is the 'City of Romance', a feeling we have just by hearing its name or looking at the city’s iconic architecture. It is the reason why visitors naturally are more “romantic”; strolling through the city at night or spending an afternoon reading in a quaint café. Similarly, we see New York as the 'City of Self Expression', formed largely by the creatives who made the city home, and still attracting people who want to be a part of it. Thus, our goal was to crystalize the emotional identity for Shanghai. Cities are always competing with each other for their place in the world. And so, similar to a consumer brand, it is vital for cities to be able to emotionally connect with the world through what makes them unique. Branding a city is not just about attracting tourism, it is about creating a long term relationship with the world."

The first phase of the campaign has been running from 9 June, and will carry on for the next five years. It will focus on four initial themes: architecture, cuisine, design and fashion. Through a partnership with Milano Municipality, the campaign is being bolstered throughout Milan through outdoor and radio ads.

Pop-up Pavillion

The Shanghai pavilion will host designs contributed by Alan Chan and Yann Debelle de Montby, who were selected based on their strong ties to Shanghai. Chan curated the pavilion's façade and public showroom, while Debelle de Montby designed the living room space. An assortment of Chinese antiques and curiosities visually transports viewers from Milan to the city of Shanghai.

360-Degree Rotunda

Alongside the pavilion, a Rotunda installation has been erected to showcase an ultra high-definition 360-degree panoramic view of Shanghai. The aerial images, which were taken from inside a helicopter, provided a realistic glimpse of Shanghai’s burgeoning skyline.

Officiation of sister-cities

A special signing ceremony between the Jing’an District Shanghai and Zone One Milano will be binding the two as official sister zones. This is meant to facilitate future cooperation between Italian and Chinese enterprises in the fields of creativity and design.

Digital Activation
Audiences are able to view Shanghai up-close digitally with a 195-gigapixel image of the city from the Oriental Pearl Tower, covering a 10-km radius. The H5 image allows a zoom-function to view Shanghai at street level at high resolution.

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