Norwegian Royalty, Heads of State, top CEO's, investors and the national media all attend one big annual event, The Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise's Annual Conference. The organisation, known as NHO, has carefully built this arena over more than a decade, and Gyro has been their partner all along the way. In 2015 I was put in charge of the creative team tasked with developing the opening performance, among other responsibilities.
NHO has gradually become more open to bending conventions as the conference has become firmly established, but it is still a high profile, formal event so I faced a bit of a balancing act when asked to come up with something unconventional and exciting for the conference opening.
Two parallel expert teams at NHO work to prepare research and reports for the conference starting 2 years in advance, staggered by one year: this is a content-heavy affair with a thoughtful and meticulously constructed program. The 2015 conference was titled “7 million” - from a national bureau of statistics report that projects Norway’s population to increase from today’s just over 5 million to 7 million by 2040. This was chosen as a framing statement as it articulated an urgency in rethinking national administrative, socio-economic, and mobility infrastructures, issues that NHO keeps high on its political agenda. All this is to say that the conference program is thick with statistics, data and pretty dry analyses.
In our team, we had all been amazed by the Swedish Public Health Professor and statistician Hans Rosling’s inventive and engaging use of dry data in his TED talks, and were itching to try something similar. The NHO conference seemed like a perfect occasion.
The first step was casting a host who was up for the challenge. Securing as the comedian Harald Eia, one of Norway’s biggest names in comedy, acclaimed not least for his political approach and his professorial interest in social research was a crucial first step.
Together we developed a data-driven tale of how Norway got to house today’s 5 million people, traced via Eia's own DNA test made for the occasion, starting in 50 000 B.C. with the glowing dot of the population growth graph as the main character - at least as a bouncy side-kick to the comedian.
We quickly knew what kind of energy and impact we wanted, and Eia is a highly experienced comedy writer and performer, so the main challenge was short deadlines and how to create the design and its animations in a format that was agile enough to play nimbly along Eia’s improvisational style. We ended up building the entire show in Keynote, because we could cut in and edit on the fly, and it allowed us to follow Eia’s live performance the closest. This meant some loss in design refinery, but the result became just as playful, energetic, fresh and nutty-proffesorial as we had hoped for.