In 1994 Congress passed a law that stated that the United States Information Agency (USIA) could not obligate funds for U.S. Pavilions at World’s Fairs unless the funds were specifically authorized and appropriated for that purpose. In 1999 this law was replaced with a new law containing the same language but adding a few exceptions. When USIA was absorbed by the State Department this language carried forward. As a result, the U.S. has not had Federal appropriations to mount its expo pavilions and has had to seek funding from the private sector.
Photo at top: At the USA Pavilion, Shanghai Expo 2010, Secretary Clinton, Ambassador Huntsman and many others in front of the Donor Wall. Photo courtesy James Ogul.
In fact, the practice of seeking private sector support for these endeavors goes back farther than that.
The ’80s: Donor walls and product placement
“You’ll get your name on our donor wall at the pavilion and you will appear in the final report that goes to Congress.” That was what we told potential donors back in the ’80s. That was usually the full benefits package, although sometimes it was augmented with product placement. Product placement in expo pavilions achieves the same benefit to sponsors as it does in movies and other vehicles that reach a desired audience.
Sometimes there were unexpected issues with product placement. At Knoxville Expo 82 Sony donated over a hundred TV monitors that were used throughout the pavilion. We got critical letters referring to “Japanese TVs in an American Pavilion.”
Product placement had some other interesting dimensions. A scene of a giant-screen film that we had in production for a pavilion showed a particular manufacturer’s monitors in an office setting. Then a computer donor came on board – not the same one as in the film, and we had to reshoot the scene. Then there was “reverse engineering,” or serendipity. One scene prominently showed the brand on a piece of construction equipment. It seemed like a perfect opportunity to approach the company for support. They sent reps to review the film, liked it, and donated.
Along the line we got into naming parts of the pavilion for sponsors as a benefit to them. The VIP lounge was a natural. A company name on the lounge gave excellent exposure as it was seen by heads of state and corporate CEOs. At New Orleans (1984) we had the Ford Lincoln Mercury Theaters – two 750-seat, 3D theaters with a film by the late Charles Guggenheim. Then in Tsukuba, at Expo 85 we went the extra step of having a corporate section where participating corporations paid rent for space and paid a maintenance fee. In Vancouver Expo 86 we expanded on the non-federal component by having the states of California, Oregon and Washington join the U.S. Section with adjacent pavilions. This counted to enhance the scale and quality of our presence without spending federal tax dollars.
The publicity benefits to corporations donating to U.S. Pavilions can take on unexpected, additional dimensions. For example, the U.S. Pavilion at Knoxville Expo 82 had all of its TV monitors donated by Sony, and Apple donated all of the computers. The touchscreen interactive exhibits throughout the pavilion won the National Audio-Visual Association’s Outstanding Achievement Award for 1982.
The U.S. Pavilion at Knoxville 82 had some other, less desirable moments. A few days before opening Knoxville experienced a major storm and our new pavilion building developed leaks. One major leak was over the glassed-in but open-top computer room and all of the Apple computers were drenched. The computers were Apple IIC’s and our MIT programmers had insisted they be operated with their tops open; as a result, they were thoroughly soaked inside. (If memory serves, they had to operate with the tops off in any case because they were jammed full of extra cards that wouldn’t allow the top to be installed.) Those 50 or so computers ran every exhibit in the pavilion and opening was two days away with President Reagan leading the ceremony. A panicky feeling set in. But the University of Tennessee student guides immediately mobilized with hair dryers and went after the Apples. After we felt they were dried out we threw the switches and miraculously everything worked. We developed our own slogan about the experience: “Apples Float,” which the people at Apple loved.
The Donor Wall offered photo-op benefits. When I took Congressmen through our pavilions I always stopped at the donor wall and told them how the companies’ contributions made our pavilion possible. Invariably they wanted their picture taken in front of the wall. They were especially happy to see a corporation there that was located in their state or district. The sponsors also appreciated having photos of visiting dignitaries captured against the wall, or with one of their products in the pavilion.
Related stories from InPark Magazine:
The ’90s: onward to tiered benefits
The number of sponsors for a pavilion can be quite large. At Aichi Expo 2005 there were 72 sponsors including a record 10 U.S. States. At Shanghai Expo 2010, there were 104 sponsors that provided over $63 million in support. At Taejon, Korea Expo 93, although Amway was the major sponsor, there were actually 45 additional sponsors.
Active in the fundraising for Taejon 93 was Commissioner General Terry McAuliffe who was recently elected Governor of Virginia. The U.S. Pavilion at Taejon which averaged 31,000 visitors a day, was the first U.S. Pavilion to be totally funded by the private sector and this was before the Congressional restrictions on the use of federal funds.
Along the way we got into tiered benefits linked to the amount donated. In today’s expo world the competition for corporate donations has gotten considerably
stiffer and the benefits packages have expanded.
At the U.S. Pavilion for Shanghai 2010, supporting corporations were given video spots on a giant outdoor screen. Corporate names appeared on sections of the pavilion, and there was a corporate exhibit area at the end of the pavilion experience. We had had similar arrangements at Tsukuba Expo 85, Seville Expo 92, and Taejon Expo 93. Had those benefits not been offered there would have been no U.S. Pavilion at those world expos. Anecdotal reports from the Student Ambassadors at the pavilion indicated that the Chinese visitors enjoyed the corporate gallery.
Milan 2015’s unique fundraising challenges
At Milan Expo 2015, the “Friends of the U.S. Pavilion” group will have to employ all of the techniques mentioned in this article and probably innovate more to raise $45 million in a compressed time frame. Fundraising at the past three expos was right down to the wire but nevertheless it was successful and hopefully the same will be true for Milan.
Read on for an insider look at the kinds of materials we share to attract sponsors, and some comparisons from one expo to another.
James Ogul’s next column will look at “Student Ambassadors, the Heart and Soul of a U.S. Pavilion”
In the matter of organizing a world’s fair pavilion, James Ogul is a top human resource. At such times as the United States has stepped up to participate in a world expo, from the early ‘80s to the present more often than not Ogul has been tapped to help coordinate the effort on the government side. Since retiring from the US State Department in 2011, he has remained connected to the international expo scene in an advisory and consulting role.
Tiered sponsor benefits package:
U.S. Pavilion, Shanghai 2010
courtesy of Nick Winslow, USAP President, Shanghai Expo 2010
Global Partners: $5 Million Plus
A minimum of $5 million in a combination of cash/VIK (value in kind). The actual amount, and the ratio of cash to VIK, will vary depending upon the specific key USA National Pavilion component (“Pavilion Component”) sponsored.
In addition to category exclusivity, each Global Partner will receive a seat on the Executive Steering Committee of the USA National Pavilion and the highest level of USA National Pavilion sponsor benefits (“USAP Sponsor Benefits”), as described under “Benefits Available to All Partners and Official Suppliers” and a prominent exclusive “Presented By” credit for the specific Pavilion Component sponsored.
Benefits Available to All Partners
and Official Suppliers
Designation as “Official Sponsor” or “Official Supplier” of the USA National Pavilion – Right to Use USA Pavilion Logo in Designated Territories – Special Recognition for Events, Exhibits, Meetings, etc. with exact levels to be negotiated – Product Sales and Promotional Opportunities – Preferred Vendor Status – Signage and Identification – Complimentary Passes – VIP Access to USA National Pavilion and the VIP Lounge – Recognition in USA National Pavilion Collateral Materials – Recognition on giant video monitor – Access to Other Expo Pavilions – Recognition on the USA National Pavilion Website
Sponsor Messages Incorporated Throughout Pavilion Presentations; Expo and Pavilion Facts
Queue Bunch – Pre-Show
– Main Show
– Post Show
Urban Farm/Greenroof – Chinese in America Exhibit – VIP Facility – Performance Stage
Premier Partners: $3 M – $4.9 M
A minimum of $3 million in a combination, to be negotiated, of cash/VIK. Premier Partners will enjoy category exclusivity, brand integration/product placement within the Pavilion, a Premier Partner level of USAP Sponsor Benefits and a prominent exclusive “Presented By” credit for the specific Pavilion Component sponsored, which may include National Day – Virtual Pavilion
Pavilion Partners/Official Suppliers: Under $3 Million
A contribution, to be negotiated, of cash/VIK, with a commensurate level of USAP Sponsor Benefits and a prominent exclusive “Presented By” credit for Special Educational, Cultural or Business Events
Comments Off on The U.S. could be a no-show at Expo 2020 Dubai
Comments Off on Expo 2020 Dubai Update
Comments Off on Five rules for a successful Expo pavilion
Comments Off on The Czech Republic prepares for Expo 2020 Dubai
Feb 18, 2020 Comments Off on Peanuts Worldwide partners with Kilburn Live on location based immersive experience
Feb 14, 2020 Comments Off on Building Museums™ Symposium to cover new construction, renovation,and expansion projects for museums
Feb 13, 2020 Comments Off on ISE 2020: 7thSense Design and Wincomn Technology extend Chinese distribution agreement
Feb 13, 2020 Comments Off on InfoComm 2020 introducing Live Events Experience
Feb 11, 2020 Comments Off on The IPM Guide to AV 2020
Feb 11, 2020 Comments Off on Mad Systems: Systems simplified
Jan 05, 2020 Comments Off on From Aichi in 2005 to Dubai in 2020, Christie technology helps spur innovation for over a decade of World Expos
Nov 15, 2019 Comments Off on Smart Monkeys: Visualization vectors
Oct 22, 2019 Comments Off on Smart Monkeys: Getting to know ISAAC
Oct 22, 2019 Comments Off on ISE 2020
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Try a drop of this: Ten innovative technologies for water attractions
Aug 01, 2019 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Medialon and 7thSense close the deal
May 03, 2019 Comments Off on 10 AV technologies revolutionizing attractions today
Dec 25, 2019 Comments Off on California’s Great America WinterFest: Transforming a theme park into a holiday wonderland.With millions of lights and thousands of decorations, the...
Nov 16, 2019 Comments Off on #80 – IAAPA 2019Table of contents
Nov 15, 2019 Comments Off on Meet Amanda ThompsonIAAPA’s incoming chair has deep roots in the attractions...
Nov 15, 2019 Comments Off on TEA 2020A chat with Michael Blau - incoming TEA International Board...
Nov 14, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA 2019 Chair David Rosenberg: The aqua-manRosenberg serves as the 2019 Chair of the IAAPA Board of...
Nov 14, 2019 Comments Off on CircusTrix CEO Fernando Eiroa: Leaps and boundsInPark spoke with Eiroa about the unique business of...
Nov 09, 2019 Comments Off on InPark exclusive: Interviews with Jeremy Railton and Scott Ault on the launch of their new company, Railton Entertainment Design (RED)Themed entertainment design veterans Jeremy Railton and...
Oct 22, 2019 Comments Off on ISE 2020The annual Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) trade show for...
Oct 21, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA: “Wear comfortable shoes!”"If this is your first Expo, attend the First Time...
Sep 11, 2019 Comments Off on Netflix and thrill: Greg Lombardo joins the content streaming powerhouse as Head of ExperiencesLombardo brings with him more than a decade experience in...
Sep 10, 2019 Comments Off on Transitions: Leaps and boundsIndustry professionals are making moves and creating waves
Sep 09, 2019 Comments Off on Exploring IAAPA EuropeMeet recent additions to IAAPA’s European team
Aug 08, 2019 Comments Off on IPM Interview: Jennifer Lee Hackett, Sinking Ship EntertainmentGiant screen veteran Jennifer Lee Hackett has joined...
Jun 28, 2019 Comments Off on John Miceli and the new DE-ŹYN StudiosThroughout his career, John Miceli has worked in feature...
Jun 26, 2019 Comments Off on Meet Lionsgate Entertainment World’s new general manager: Selena MagillMeet the new GM of Lionsgate Entertainment World, scheduled...
May 08, 2019 Comments Off on ECA2: All eyes on LanzhouECA2's latest spectacle, a permanent installation in a...
May 06, 2019 Comments Off on IAAPA Expo Asia"Establishing a presence in both Hong Kong and Shanghai...
Apr 29, 2019 Comments Off on Vekoma: Coasting around AsiaInPark spoke to Jason Pan, Vekoma’s regional director of...
Mar 21, 2019 Comments Off on Lisa Passamonte GreenThe Thea Awards Nominating Committee annually reviews and...
Mar 21, 2019 Comments Off on Infinite Kingdoms: Planet playologyWe recently connected with founder Denise Chapman Weston...
Mar 21, 2019 Comments Off on The French connection: Meet Michel Linet-Frion"Since I typically rely on contracted expertise and talent...
Mar 21, 2019 Comments Off on Andrew O’Rourke: Google THISIn late 2018, Andrew became an employee of Adecco working...
Dec 18, 2018 Comments Off on Mad Systems: The future is nowInPark reported on the launch and revisited with Ensing for...
Dec 18, 2018 Comments Off on Time for a changeInPark checks in with industry leaders who are heading back...
Nov 05, 2018 Comments Off on Michael Mercadante: Giving backMichael Mercadante, President of Main Street Design, Inc....