The “Songlines” theme, which lit up the Sydney Opera House (SOH) sails during the recent Vivid Festival, awed millions with an ancient story told in the most modern of ways. Indeed, the SOH marketing team used Facebook Live technology, which had only been launched a month earlier, to broadcast the multimillion-dollar lighting spectacular to a global audience of 8 million people.
Fast-forward two months later to Adobe Symposium 2016, in Sydney on July 26, where SOH CEO Louise Herron was clearly delighted to discuss the Australian icon’s extensive rebranding, which culminated with the light show.
“It was the most successful piece of digital content we have ever produced,” said Herron, who shared the story of the Australian icon’s rebranding with 2,000-plus digital marketing professionals. “The Opera House had become familiar, but what it actually was not understood. We needed to shift perspectives and find some new and unfamiliar angles.”
Herron embarked on this journey in 2012 when she took on the senior role just shy of the SOH’s 40th birthday. At the time, the SOH was struggling with diminishing conditions, both operationally and in terms of its public image. “There was an extraordinary lack of knowing inside,” Herron said.
Driven by the SOH’s original 1961 vision statement to be “bold and aspiring,” Herron said she began by shifting operational culture, with some long-term goals around experiential opportunities and public engagement.
Herron said she believes linking new technology to the art and magic of SOH marked the start of its digital transformation. She advised fellow business leaders looking to transition into an experiential space is to invest in training and stay flexible.
“What we have learnt is people and culture matter. You need a team with the right attitude, willing to learn, and enjoy working ‘at the edge of the possible’–enabling the team has been one of the most inspiring parts,” she said.