"Food is a hot, much discussed topic"

Michael Müllner (Photo: Büro Wien)

Michael Müllner (Photo: Büro Wien)

CIM: Are communication needs rising in the food segment?
Müllner: We noticed with our customer CIES (international association of the food industry) that the size and intensity of such events are on the rise. Food is a hot, much discussed topic. In view of exploding food prices this big debate will leave nobody cold.

What topic did you focus on at the CIES World Food Business Summit from 18 to 20 June 2008 at the ICM Munich?
The 52nd Summit was titled "Growth & Sustainability – Building Profit with Responsibility," and was attended by over 750 CEOs. The event is the most important conference of the food industry. It called for a lot of well-founded infotainment. We designed the entrance and stage areas and opening show in a manner that the 1,200 delegates had the feeling they were visiting a world of its own. Brand communication is increasingly placed in a larger context. In our segment there is a focus on emphasising industry’s universal responsibility.

How did you stage sustainability as a concept?
We thought about it a lot. And then we realised: The most sustainable thing on earth are the four elements. That’s not amazingly original, because the elements often occur in event communication. But this was one of the rare cases where they really fit. For without earth, water and air nothing can grow, without fire you cannot prepare food. Sustainability is always connected with the elements. And we presented the organiser CIES as the fifth element.

You mentioned the CEOs – how can you move such a demanding audience?
They are people who have seen many events. So you can’t just do a standard job. You need to keep it simple but it has to be all the more carefully conceived. Apart from that you can capture an intellectual audience just as much by associations and emotions as any other.

And how did you create a visual "aah" factor?
We turned the entire stage into a cornfield, for this we got a farmer in Salzburg to dig out 200 sqm of corn and we installed it at ICM München fixing it with paste. The lectern and lounge furniture stood in the midst of this cornfield. Behind that we set up the 15 x 7 metre screen, on which we showed HD projections, all rendered in high-end quality. The films were created in co-operation with Airborne Motion Pictures. With their assistance we extended the cornfield into infinity as a visual effect and made combines appear in the field . That was a unique effect.

Michael Müllner is the director of büro wien – inszenierte kommunikation marketing GmbH.