Who we are
We are creative strategists, agitators and alchemists; captivating audiences on intimate and global stages.
To develop creative strategies equal to the greatest ambitions of our clients.
To thrill and transport our many audiences, through unforgettable encounters.
What we do
We dream up the big ideas that connect with people; bringing stories to life in unexpected and arresting ways.
We create high-profile ceremonies, events and launches,designing the complete journey of audience experience: from arrival to departure via extraordinary encounters.
We build relevant, compelling campaigns - from narrative development and winning strategy to 360° support and execution.
SARA DONALDSON OBE
“Create an experience to inspire wonder, and in no small way you will have changed the world.”
Sara has overseen the delivery of many of the UK’s highest profile events and launches. These include projects such as London’s successful bid for the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, the Royal Opening of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 and Terminal 2, the launch of the new concourse at King’s Cross Station, and Camelot’s Olympic Handover in the Mall. Her career in staging major events developed from coordinating sporting championships for the British Universities Sports Federation. In 1997 she became National Programme Director for the New Millennium Experience Company and in 2000, was awarded an OBE for her services to the Millennium Celebrations.
Sara helped Singapore win the 2010 Youth Olympic Games; led the strategic direction of England’s bid to host the 2018 Football World Cup; supported Glasgow 2014 in developing their bid narrative and co-produced the Glasgow 2014 Commonwealth Games Flag Handover Ceremony in Delhi. Sara was the Chief Operating Officer of the production company for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Opening and Closing Ceremonies. Sara was on the Board of Directors for the Inaugural Invictus Games, and Exec Producer of the Ceremonies for the 2014 and 2106 events. In September 2015 Sara was the Exec Producer for the England 2015 Rugby World Cup Opening Ceremony. In 2017 Sara oversaw key elements of the 2017 Athletics World Championships and in 2019 and 2020 she was Championships Director of the World Skateboarding Championships.
Who we help
Experience on a global scale
From governments and world leaders to major charities and blue-chip organisations, our clients confidently entrust their most prestigious events to our unrivalled expertise.
Fostering an intimate connection
At personal level and for smaller organisations, we provide individual consultancy and bespoke events. We are proud to be known as facilitators and enablers - seeking always to help people connect.
Pricing tailored to you
Our made-to-measure pricing policy enables us to take on smaller projects that ignite our passions, alongside our large-scale work.
How we work
Anything but ordinary, at Donaldson Creative we dare our clients to dream big:
pushing the boundaries of creative possibility to discover uniquely inspiring approaches.
penetrating strategy with boundless creativity;
meticulous delivery with bravery of vision
From the moment the right idea is ignited we are unstoppable, driven to excel with total integrity. We don’t rest until a creation is extraordinary in every detail; lending the weight of our unrivalled experience and intuition to guide an evolving vision toward all-out success.
A desire to delight infuses our every choice. From micro moments of surprise and joy to historic spectaculars on an epic scale, our ambition is ever to awaken people to the moment; touching each audience with a brilliance all at once captivating, memorable, and very, very effective.
London 2017 World ParaAthletics Championships
Donaldson Creative devised, produced the Medal Plaza delivering 213 Medal Ceremonies for the World ParaAthletics Championships held in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park in July 2017.
Located in the Hero Village (sponsor activations), this was the first time the ceremonies were delivered outside of the Stadium to ensure that they were not a distraction to competition taking place.
With a complex schedule, a daily programme of the Hero Village and all its activity was created to ensure Partner activations did not disrupt the medal ceremonies and there was a consistent programme of activity both on and off stage throughout the day to create a fun and energetic atmosphere.
A dedicated and highly experienced team was recruited to address the need for flexibility and speed due to number of ceremonies.
Sentebale Fundraising Concerts
2016 & 2019
Two unique concerts at Kensington Palace and Hampton Court Palace to raise awareness of the charity’s work - supporting orphans and vulnerable children in Lesotho, many of whom are affected by the HIV/AIDS epidemic.
In 2016, exclusive performances took place by Coldplay, Laura Mvula, George the Poet and the Basotho Children’s Choir flown in from Lesotho to perform with Joss Stone. In 2019, Rita Ora headlined along with B Positive choir and Lesotho performer Morena Leraba.
Donaldson Creative provided consultancy support to develop multiple hospitality packages within the Palaces and the creation of a funding model in order to secure partners. In the delivery phase, we developed the overarching running order, created visual content including film and graphics and produced all scripts. We worked with the concert promoters to deliver all technical production and site infrastructure. We also provided stage management during the show for all creative elements and speakers including HRH Prince Harry.
Careful management of stakeholders including the Royal Household, headline talent and sponsors was required as well as guidance on guest experience including catering, venue management, entertainment and spectator experience.
Invictus Games Orlando 2016
Following on from our successful involvement in the inaugural Invictus Games in London, we provided significant consultancy and production support for the 2016 Invictus Games that took place in May 2016 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. The consultancy began with a feasibility study showcasing Invictus best practice.
We were appointed to produce the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, overseeing the complicated sports presentation for 10 disciplines in 5 venues, as well as a producing a number of Symposium events for the George W. Bush Institute taking place ahead of the games. In addition to this support central project management was provided, including the production of critical path documentation and other project management tools including management action registers and status documentation.
The Opening Ceremony took place on the 8th May in front of an audience of 14,000 and a global television audience of many millions.
Click here to view the Opening Ceremony: http://www.continuumlive.com/invictus-games-orlando-2016-opening-ceremony/
RWC 2015 Opening Ceremony
To excite the world and set the tone for the Tournament, our objective was to create an Opening Ceremony that would engage and inspire a live audience of 82,000 at Twickenham Stadium and a broadcast audience in the hundreds of million. The production played a significant role in realising the vision for the Tournament and in presenting England as a proud, warm and welcoming host nation.
This needed to be more than a Ceremony, this needed to be an experience; a moment in time to break new ground via an extraordinarily ambitious production. We placed the grand, the formal and the received traditions of ceremony to one side and got right to the point, the vision, the SCRUM. The Opening Ceremony set the tone for the Tournament; passionate, succinct, bold and bursting with excitement. Most crucially the field of play was cleared in just 10 minutes, allowing teams plenty of warm up time for the Opening Match. The show had a fantastic response from the audience, the media and the client - a truly unforgettable experience.
England 2018 Football World Cup Bid
England’s Bid Team asked us to help develop the narrative, messaging and their effective communication for the bid to host the FIFA World Cup in 2018 or 2022 by telling a compelling story for why England should host the World Cup.
We created an engaging, relevant and compelling launch event with both supporting films and brand animation; we orchestrated multiple brand activations including a Back the Bid scarf around Admiral Nelson’s neck and the Fly the Flag tour.
We leveraged the impact of celebrity supporters, including Prince William, Prime Minister David Cameron, David Beckham and Wayne Rooney through a ‘Back the Bid’ campaign which was then opened up to the public.
We were also fundamental in delivering a flawless final presentation in Zurich developing content, co-ordinating logistics and speech coaching.
Although the bid team were unsuccessful in winning the right to host the 2018 Football World Cup, FIFA president Sepp Blatter praised an "excellent and remarkable" presentation from the bid team in Zurich
Salvation Army 150th Anniversary Congress
To celebrate the 150th Anniversary of the founding of The Salvation Army, we partnered with Executive Producer Christopher Laue and Corporate Magic to deliver a 7-day programme of full-scale productions, concerts and exhibitions across four venues at The O2, London.
The production included 7 arena shows honouring their rich-storied heritage while at the same time celebrating their innovative future in front of an audience of 15,000 each time. We provided project management for all aspects including brand activations, creative production, complex logistics, stakeholder management and onsite delivery at an iconic but challenging venue.
Invictus Games London 2014
Sara Donaldson sat on the Board of Directors of the inaugural Invictus Games, responsible for ceremonies. The Opening Ceremony had a live audience of 10,000 and broadcast audience of millions. Sara led the team to manage every aspect from developing the creative concept and a compelling narrative to managing full production, logistics, scripting, onsite delivery, entertainment and military elements whilst liaising with multiple stakeholders including the Royal Household, within a challenging venue and a stringent budget. Highlights included persuading Chris Martin to compose an Invictus anthem, Idris Elba performing a reading and the Foo Fighters playing an exclusive headline set to close the games.
Donaldson Creative was also awarded the contract to oversee Sports Presentation, Opening, Closing and Medal Ceremonies for the 2016 Invictus Games hosted in Orlando in May 2016.
National Lottery 3rd License Bid
2002 - 2014
We worked on the bid by National Lottery operators Camelot to retain their licence for a third, ten-year term seeing off competition from Indian conglomerate Sugal and Damani. Among the various tender criteria, the rival bidders needed to convey to the independent National Lottery Commission (NLC) that their plans would maximise revenue for Good Causes, with the funding demands of the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games providing the backdrop to the contest. Camelot asked us to manage and produce the initial media launch and the final bid presentation.
The media launch was a headline-grabbing event in London with key content distilled into three films. The official bid presentation took place in a more formal environment behind closed doors. This presented a rare challenge, with no opportunity for on-site support. As such, all scripts, speaker performances and technical aids were developed to a stage where flawless delivery was assured.
The Commission unanimously decided that although it had received two strong bids, Camelot’s clear sales and marketing strategies meant they were better placed to generate returns for good causes and were confirmed as the preferred partner.
Between 2002 and 2014, we continued to work with Camelot on a number of projects including their 10th Anniversary celebrations, Lotto Launch and the National Lottery Showcase on the Olympic Park.
A member of the Camelot team called our contribution to the bid as “vital” specifically heralding the “military precision” with which events were planned, finalised and produced.
Heathrow - Launch of T5 & T2
March 2008 & June 2014
To launch the new landmark buildings with purpose and pride required world-class ceremonies. We provided full service event support co-ordinating every aspect, from writing speeches and producing films, to co-ordinating Her Majesty’s schedule and ensuring that up to 1,100 VIP guests passed seamlessly through security checks whilst working within a live Terminal environment.
We included creative, bold and unexpected elements alongside the official proceedings to create unique events and also addressed various challenges such as high security levels, strict royal protocol and the buildings themselves.
BBC Sports Personality of the Year 2012
2012 was a historic year for British sport; hot on the heels of the Olympic Games, the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year 2012 Awards was the most hotly anticipated show of its 59 year history. The BBC needed to deliver its biggest and best celebration yet so we created an event that wowed the 16,500 live arena audience and millions of viewers through live transmission.
Our innovative set design created a dynamic canvas that allowed unlimited possibilities for lighting transformation as well as diverse staging possibilities for an exciting show. In addition to the main arena for the Awards ceremony, we were also charged with the design, implementation and management of four high-end hospitality areas and the after-show party featuring a unique musical performance by Bradley Wiggins.
London 2012 Bid & Ceremonies
2005 - 2012
In order to bring the Olympic and Paralympic Games to London, the bid committee asked us to help them define a brand that would set London apart from the other candidate cities. It was vital to build nationwide and international recognition & support from sporting organisations, government, public and media and communicate the essential messages with consistency, clarity, credibility and passion to compel the IOC to vote for London.
Working both embedded inside the bid team and as consultants, we developed the creative concepts and core narratives from the launch event, through to the development of the bid book, and the delivery of all events including the Evaluation Commission and the final presentation to the IOC.
We helped to define the bid narrative, designed innovative environments, developed content and produced marketing collateral and films. We wrote scripts and trained speakers. We helped to manage and brought on board stakeholders and the general public.
“Your contribution to London’s Olympic bid was unrivalled. It was clear from the beginning that you would go to extraordinary lengths to ensure every event was an unqualified success. Whatever the brief, the team were completely dependable. We couldn’t have won without you.” Marketing Director, London 2012
As a partner in a joint venture company, Flow Productions Ltd and our team established and managed London 2012 Ceremonies Limited - the dedicated production company that delivered the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Sara Donaldson and Christopher Laue served as joint Chief Operating Officer with the remainder of our leadership team serving as Procurement Director, Finance Director and Producer of the Ceremonies.
The creative concept of the Ceremonies brought to life the key themes and priorities of the London 2012 Games – ‘Inspiring a generation’ - through sport, youth and urban transformation. It was a Ceremony 'for everyone', celebrating the most innovative, revolutionary and iconic examples of Britain’s rich history and unique humour. Led by a visionary creative team that included Danny Boyle (Slumdog Millionaire), Kim Gavin (Take That The Circus Tour) and Stephen Daldry (Billy Elliott), these distinctly British ceremonies were embraced by more than 4 billion viewers worldwide in 204 countries, and received widespread critical acclaim.
Glasgow 2014 Handover Ceremony
To bring to life Glasgow 2014 and the city’s unique personality, we delivered an 8-minute segment of the Closing Ceremony of the Delhi 2010 Commonwealth Games, working across geographies and cultures with a limited budget. The objective was to deliver a strong and stylish performance; meaningful to the home audience, entertaining to the live audience, and memorable for the global broadcast audience. This was achieved by identifying established symbols that led the audience on a journey through traditional Scotland to modern Glasgow and by placing the proud people of Glasgow at the heart of the performance. This was highly visible in the form of tartan, kilts, bagpipes, the Loch Ness monster and a 350-strong mass choreographed cast from every corner of Scotland, from all backgrounds and all walks of life. We provided the overall creative concept from inception through to delivery as well as creative direction on all elements including choreography, original music, protocol, design, and co-ordinating a team of world-class experts to lead an inexperienced in-house team. We were also responsible for the technical and operational delivery.