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Uniting a global team
in a unique virtual experience


The challenge

The pharmaceutical industry has innovation at its core. GSK’s Transformational Medicines and Vaccines Awards is the premier annual global event dedicated to celebrating the achievements of their outstanding people in research and development.

The global pharmaceutical company wanted to make their 2021 virtual awards bigger, better and more immersive than ever, accommodating and uniting up to 15,000 staff around the world from a wide range of research and development teams.

They wanted a truly memorable event, hosted in an inspirational virtual space, highlighting innovation and with a consistent message of team unity and togetherness through ‘One R&D’ across the globe.

Toucan loves a challenge, so we rolled our sleeves up and got to work scoping out the creative strategies and new technologies that would bring the event to life with more engagement, more connection and more interaction than ever before.

What we did

  • Virtual event planning
  • Full service event management
  • Internal comms management
  • Content creation
  • Strong story thread
  • Film production
  • Platform sourcing and management
  • Bespoke virtual platform build
  • Live event streaming
  • Award design and manufacturing
  • Gift sourcing & bespoke theme design

Our big idea

We wanted to push the boundaries of virtual event creation so it felt special and immersive to everyone involved. And, more importantly, we knew all our touchpoints had to be aligned to keep all the invitees on the same journey despite their different projects, continents and time zones.

In true Toucan style, we kept a strong story thread at the core. To create a live connection between all R&D sites across the globe, our creative and tech experts designed and built an entire bespoke 3D virtual world to act as a platform for the event and showcase the winning teams. Using a space theme to resonate with the company’s North Star messaging, we decided to make the world fully navigable, providing a creative space not only for the event but long into the future.

With six months of detailed planning, we ensured the event experience was seamless and immersive. High quality films from six live global film shoots, plus virtual filming of all the award winners and a dedicated, specially designed expedition space for winning projects, helped everyone fully engage on the night.

Our meticulously timed global delivery plan for 450 gift boxes worked perfectly. Winners were blown away by our carefully curated collection of innovation and space themed gifts and the QR code leading to a personal message from the President. And while thousands met in our virtual world, we minimised the event’s impact on the real one by offsetting 100 tonnes of carbon with our reforestation partner Ecologi.

The impact we made

Our virtual event was a real North Star for the pharmaceutical giant’s R&D family across the globe, to join together and celebrate their outstanding achievements. Our results on the night were astronomical:

  • * 26,000 hearts and claps 
  • * 19 projects highlighted
  • * One standout immersive 3D platform to be used for other events
  • * Open to 15,000 attendees
  • * 450 bespoke sustainable gift boxes
  • * A single united R&D team
  • * 5000 trees planted & 100 tonnes carbon reduction


But we didn’t stop there. Always searching for ways to make new connections and add value, we used the platform to showcase the company’s long running Outstanding People campaign and built an entire architecture to allow attendees to explore more about GSK’s future.

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  • In a sky full of stars, I saw you. Your dedication to each other, to R&D and to making this event truly wonderful was evident every step of the way. Thank you for being a truly stellar team.

    Head, Culture & Engagement

    R&D, GSK

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