Planning & Production: Empire Entertainment
Event: CGI U At Home
Client: CGI U
Mark Poncher, COO & Executive Producer at Empire Entertainment:
The Clinton Global Initiative started in 2005 by President Clinton. He was used to going to conferences and learning about global issues but never leaving with a plan to take action. He decided to start a brand new conference that focused on encouraging the attendees to commit to solving the issues brought to light. You could donate your time, money, or influence, but the results had to be demonstrative and measurable. Since CGI was created, there has also been CGI International and CGI U—a similar conference held for college students.
CGI U was planned to be hosted at the University of Edinburgh this year. 700 students had committed to going there for a day and half, when just four weeks before, COVID-19 determined that the in-person event would be canceled. Since I had produced the event in the past, I was brought in to recreate the conference virtually.
We asked ourselves, how do we give these students some kind of interactive environment which allows them to engage with the president, the community, and come up with their initiative?
The event’s speakers included President Clinton, Chelsea Clinton, Governor Cuomo and Governor Newsom. There were also world-renowned medical professionals and congresspeople. We structured the content to be delivered in 30-minute segments, after which we held a 15-minute break. We divided moderated breakout sessions by time zones so no matter where you were in the world you could participate.
We prerecorded the majority of it, then packaged and edited it. We focused a lot on making sure everything with our speakers ran smoothly. Part of preparing speakers was ensuring their technology was sound—that they had a decent monitor, camera, microphone, and internet connection in their at-home set-up. If they didn’t, we sent them the equipment they needed and coached them on how to use it. We also had 30 moderators per chat room. This ensured breakout sessions also went off without a hitch.
It was an incredible success—for the 5 ½ hour show, we had viewers from all 50 states and 70 countries. In addition to that 700-person base committed to the event before COVID-19, through our own marketing efforts and the marketing efforts of CGI and The Clinton Foundation, we were able to get a total of 4,200 live viewers.