Abu Dhabi sustainability week opening ceremony 
and the Zayed Future Energy Prize 2018

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is the largest sustainability gathering in the Middle East. Hosted by Masdar, this prestigious annual event attracts thousands of people, including world leaders, heads of state, members of the royal family, ministers, scientists, business leaders, thought leaders and investors, from all over the world, to address the interconnected challenges of sustainable development and clean energy.

The agency was approached to produce the creative and content concept development and implementation for the 2018 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) opening ceremony at ADNEC, Abu Dhabi. The 75-minute ceremony was to include both the opening segment of ADSW and the Zayed Future Energy Prize (ZFEP) awards ceremony.

Several key areas of the opening ceremony had been identified as needing to be addressed in order to create a vibrant, memorable occasion. The main goal was to design a unique and seamless, content rich event that engaged the audience at both an intellectual and emotional level, and evoked positive memories and associations with Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the Zayed Future Energy Prize. The event needed to be transformed into an inspiring showpiece that positioned ADSW as a premier platform for action on sustainability, highlighted the UAE’s commitment to the development and use of sustainable energy and celebrated the ZFEP winners and their achievements.

We were looking for a unifying theme that would connect Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week and the Zayed Future Energy prize. As both aim to encourage global communities to realise viable and effective strategies to mitigate climate change, we looked for a metaphorical device that illustrated how everyone’s actions and can lead to a big impact. Taking inspiration from Butterfly Effect theory, which is the metaphorical concept that a tornado can be influenced by minor movement such as the flapping of the wings of a distant butterfly several weeks earlier. Hence; Butterfly Effect = The smallest of actions, when taken together, can have a massive impact The butterfly theme worked on a number of different levels. On one level, the butterfly effect illustrated that the smallest actions, when taken together, can have a massive positive impact. Secondly, the metaphorphosis process associated with the butterfly fitted perfectly with ADSW and ZFEP’s central theme for 2018 - transformation. Specifically, ADSW driving the global energy transformation and 10 years of ZFEP transforming lives.

Using the core idea of the Butterfly Effect as the central linking element, we utilised a combination of motion graphic branding on a 32m LED HD screen, state-of-the art kinetic lighting, a live multi-media dance performance, thought provoking and emotionally charged video footage and engaging key speakers, such as Professor Stephen Hawking and Fatima Al Kaabi, the UAE’s youngest investor. All these concept touch points reflecting the core message of “The smallest of actions, when taken together, can have a massive impact” The audience experience began with a pre-show, interactive audience video setting the scene that the small actions and thoughts of each individual audience member were coming together and growing to make a big impact. To encourage the audience to become an integral part of the show, and to illustrate how everyone’s actions can make a difference to people around the world, we integrated an active social media moment, motivating the audience to create a butterfly effect of their own by sharing event related hashtags including #butterflyeffect, #youth for sustainability #adsw2018 and #zfep2018, as well introducing a FanCam moment. During the awards ceremony, to augment the succession of ZFEP finalists’ videos, we incorporated emotionally charged segments featuring people in the audience who had been impacted by the projects, as well as a passionate live performance which thanked everyone, and particularly Sheikh Zayed, for their support. For the opening ceremony’s grand finale, four million paper butterflies with the message
‘The future is in our hands’ were released from the ceiling as a tangible reminder of #butterflyeffect.
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