In 2015 Milan will host a world fair dedicated to the relationship between food, health and sustainable development. An expanding media campaign is already anticipating the event, which is expected to boost the international reputation of the Lombard metropolis. By means of the tools of discourse and genre analysis, the Expo promotional texts have been compared with related print and online articles, published in the international (English and French) and Italian national press, in order to elicit the interweaving of its several goals, cultural, social and commercial. The re- search shows that, at the discursive level, the launch of the event adopts an official pedagogic and universalist attitude and forceful promissory rhetoric. Both features, though, covertly aim to promote the commercial side of the Expo, embedding easily recognisable marketing strategies as watermarks and urging the rebranding of Milan as a World City, placed at the strategic crossroads of the local and the global. Whereas the disenchanted outside gaze of the international press does not miss to retrace several contradictions in the twists and turns of the complex Expo planning, the Italian press reports a clash of views and values that discourages consensus building in the public opinion. Textual evidence thus reveals deep discrepancies among the multiple media narratives of the Expo 2015. This discursive and social hiatus risks undermining not just the image of the Expo as a utopian social space of the near future, but above all the realisation of major urban regeneration interventions.
Keywords: Globalisation, international exhibitions, media discourse analysis, promotional discourse, text genres, urban rebranding.