In a recent opinion piece, international brand consultant Mark Ritson wrote about the possibilities and pitfalls for companies embarking on Centenary programmes.
Aside from the significant investment and resourcing required along with the potential for a protracted programme to run out of steam, Ritson also noted that with corporate histories maturing as they are, Centenaries are becoming increasingly commonplace affairs. We've heard of charity fatigue. Now it sounds as if we're entering the era of Centenary fatigue and particularly so when today's customers are far more concerned with tomorrow than yesterday.
A year prior to Ritson's op-ed, Sydney Airport was well underway with its own Centenary planning.
At the time, Creighton Ward was appointed to contribute to the strategic development of the programme's framework and key planks.
19 November 2019 would mark the 100th anniversary of Sydney Airport's first passenger flight. 100 years after that landmark 1919 flight, the airport now welcomes over 44 million passengers annually and in 2019, as happenstance would have it, also celebrated the arrival of its billionth passenger.
Inevitably, sandwiched between Sydney Airport's first and billionth passenger lay a rich history and heritage of aviation milestones, world firsts, significant achievements and personal journeys; a cornucopia of storytelling and engagement opportunities to showcase.
While historical narratives are no brainers for a Centenary celebration, the breadth and depth of Sydney Airport's stories were next level! Call it spoilt for choice, lost in the option forest or feeling like a kid in a lolly shop. Whatever the case it could result in trying to 'boil the ocean'.
Instead Sydney Airport chose to do fewer things better. And also did so within a shorter, sharper timeframe of just five months, ensuring SYD100's momentum built quickly, its high standards were maintained and that the Centenary avoided wearing out its welcome.
Following the contribution to SYD100's strategic planning phase, Creighton Ward was appointed to manage the full programme rollout; from pre-launch briefings, partnership appointments, stakeholder engagement and concept development through to launch deployment and editorial co-ordination and finally through to post-programme analysis, reconciliation and handover.
Importantly, the SYD100 programme launched hand-in-hand with Sydney Airport's new SYD brand identity and all subsequent Centenary activations were nuanced interpretations of the overarching company brand expression.
SYD100 Gala Event
Creighton Ward spearheaded Sydney Airport's most ambitious and complex event to date; a black-tie, sit-down dinner for 600 at a secret Airside location positioned next to intersecting runways. The unique on-tarmac experience under a clear marquee offered sweeping views of aircraft take-offs and landings across the precinct. The Gala was attended by the NSW Premier, the Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, numerous Federal and State MPs, Airline CEOs, descendants of SYD's aviation pioneers and the who's who of the aeronautical industry.
Images: Belinda Rolland and Kurt Ams.
20 items of coverage across tv, print, digital and radio.
300+ social media posts; Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn.
Bayside Schools Competition to Imagine the Future of Travel
At the other end of the spectrum, directly engaging local school kids in the Centenary was of equal importance. Creighton Ward initiated a primary school SYD100 programme with Bayside Council and its footprint of 35 local primary schools. Schools were invited to develop a multimedia future-facing, fun class project (Years 5 & 6) to 'Imagine the Future of Travel'. Aviation-inspired drawing competitions were incorporated for younger (Years 3 and 4) students. 1,200+ entries were received, with an awards ceremony officiated by the Mayor of Bayside at Rockdale Town Hall. Winning classes were taken on an exclusive Centenary Airfield tour across Sydney Airport's domestic and international terminals in the following weeks.
Images: Lucia Elliott
Media coverage example: St George & Sutherland Shire Leader
SYD100 Media Partnership
Creighton Ward acted as editorial co-ordinator in conjunction with News Corp's Commercial Partnerships Editor to identify and develop narratives to engage Sydneysiders with Sydney AIrport's role in the city's growth and prosperity and the successes it shares. Editorial support of significant depth and breadth ran every month of the programme period across major metropolitan news media mastheads, local community titles and lifestyle brands.
Media coverage example: dailytelegraph.com.au historical feature: Flying corps veteran turned Sydney paddock into airport.
Wall-to-wall video packages
Creighton Ward recommended the development of a suite of videos to run across 127 in-terminal screens, event and broadcast purposes, appointing Found At Sea to develop the conceptual graphics and produce 15 customised video edits. During development the scope increased to include other business units' content requirements and four bespoke videos for the newly launched International Terminal's Departures Wall screen - 25 metres of it. Significant savings were achieved by incorporating these broader deliverables into the initial brief to the video production company.
Videos: Found at Sea
Media coverage example: St George and Sutherland Shire Leader coverage - Departures Wall unveiling.
Creighton Ward was largely based at Sydney Airport, from pre-launch through to the programme's conclusion, working closely with senior leaders, a broad range of business units and project teams to deliver a lean, high-value Centenary programme with focus, precision, consistency and a sharp trajectory.
Contact CW for more.