Though the Boeing 787 Dreamliner had its official rollout a few years back at Boeing’s Everett assembly factory in Washington, the company earlier this year rolled the plane out again to celebrate its new final assembly and delivery facility, the 240-acre Boeing South Carolina in North Charleston, which began production in July 2011. The event’s theme was “Building Dreams,” and at its heart showed off South Carolina’s Low Country and its people. Local school marching bands and musical performers participated, employees introduced Boeing executives, and it concluded with a video homage to Low Country life.
“We wanted the tone of the rollout to be a celebration of South Carolina and the Boeing South Carolina team. We wanted to capture the culture we have here. We have a work force that’s inspired and very proud of what they do,” says Candy Eslinger, Boeing senior manager-communications. “We wanted to create an emotional and tangible connection to Boeing here in South Carolina because we are new here. We also wanted to create that connection to the 787 as being a product of South Carolina.”
The celebration drew 7,000 attendees, including employees, locals and the media. It started at 1:30 p.m. and ended by 3 p.m, a time frame critical to keeping energy up in South Carolina’s often brutal heat. The strategy, per New York City-based handling agency Proscenium, centered on “The three P’s: The People, Place and Plane.” Let’s take a look:
Leading up to the rollout, Boeing drove excitement for the event among employees and the community at large by involving them as much as possible in plans. An animated graphic countdown marked the days. It ran on all of the plasma monitors at the facility, including outside by the parking lot, the conference room and the general and main lobbies. Boeing also held auditions to find an employee to sing the national anthem at the event, as well as folks to introduce the executives on stage.
Elementary, middle and high school students provided the entertainment. The Berkeley School District (Panjamdrum Steel Band) performed for about 35 minutes as people strolled in and received a branded marshaling wand that served a couple of purposes (more on that later). While the band played, Boeing’s 6,000 employees, or “teammates” as they’re called, lined up, and the elementary Dorchester School District (African Drums) entertained them while they waited to enter the event space. On cue they were escorted by Burke High School (Marching Band and Flag Squad) students, who walked with the teammates, all dressed in Boeing’s blue and white, in a procession. After the national anthem, Boeing called down its crew. What appeared were performers that created musical instruments using the kinds of objects, like wrenches, used daily by the crew.
In previous Boeing rollouts, the plane is usually the last thing to come out on stage, but at this event it was revealed 40 minutes into the show to serve as the backdrop and set. The crowd began counting down from 10, and when it reached one a large kabuki curtain dropped and the plane was revealed amid fog, lighting effects and music originally scored just for this day.
Remember the branded marshaling wands? Here’s how they come into play again: Because of the way the plane had come out, it had to be turned into position, so it would be directly behind the stage. Boeing vp and general manager at Boeing South Carolina Jack Jones led the crowd in raising their wands to marshal the plane into position. The wand also served as a keepsake. To top it off, Boeing released daytime blue fireworks in the distance.
After the plane was in position and folks settled down, the team rolled a video that showed the interior of the plane, a nice touch for those who work on different elements of the plane but don’t actually get inside to see the finished product. The team shot the video the day before, so it looked like it was happening live. A local TV reporter who has covered Boeing for years narrated the footage.
The event wrapped with a speech by South Carolina governor Nikki Haley, who talked about the state and Boeing’s impact on it. For the finale, Boeing showed a video about the Low Country, which was followed by Boeing executives back up on stage and welcoming everyone to take pictures with the plane as blue fireworks once again burst in air. EM