Having been the first to react to the announcement of the decree on with a post on Twitter featuring a number plate execution, here we followed up with a real-world stunt where we could capture highly emotional content - content that would have the power to challenge attitudes and change behavior. We set up a driving school for a day in a private car park, where women could legally get behind the wheel to experience driving for themselves, for the first time. Secondly, and this is where it got even more interesting, unbeknown to our brave female protagonists it would be the men in their lives who would actually give them their first driving lesson: brothers, uncles, husbands and fathers whom we had recruited and brought to the event as a surprise.
Branded content often fails to engage. The Royal Decree encouraged most brands to jump on the bandwagon. However, we wanted to do more than get involved. Nissan wanted to be a genuine enabler and make a meaningful difference. So we set-up a real world stunt, that would generate a genuinely emotional content film - a film with the power to change minds and hearts. We were the first and only brand that gave women a real chance to drive - sure, they drove Nissan Altima cars, and it was in a Nissan-branded car lot, but the focus of the content we generated is what driving means to Saudi women, and significantly, how important it is for men to support their decision. We managed to get this across and grab many Saudi men's attention by surprising our female learners with an unexpected instructor for their first driving lesson.
We expected the campaign to be referenced and celebrated internationally, as was the decree. However, we wanted to effect attitude and behavior change in Saudi Arabia, especially amongst more conservative men in households.
The initial tweet, featuring the "GRL 2018" car number plate visual, generated 562,000 impressions and 8.8% engagement rate (benchmark for excellence is 2.5%).
In its first week, with a very small paid media budget, the content film generated 7.6m impressions and 2,064,300 views (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and YouTube), with 9.4% engagement rate (> 5% is seen as excellent). The viewer retention rate is 59% - YouTube benchmark excellence as 50%. Overall, people have spent 976,487 minutes watching the content, equivalent to 1.86 years of viewership, with 64% of the views coming from men in Saudi Arabia.
Earned media coverage on TV and online, including Reuters, CNN, Al Arabiya and BBC Worldwide, has been valued at over $2.1m.
After King Salman issued a royal decree in late September allowing women to drive in June 2018, carmakers have been fighting for the attention of Saudi women. Giving women the chance to get some hands-on driving experience is a territory every car brand has the right to play in. However, there's no tension in this. It doesn't make for entertaining, captivating or unskippable content. By addressing a bigger issue, the Saudi men who are still reluctant and unwilling to give their support, our stunt generated content that was highly relevant, shareable and engaging.
The Royal Decree was met with delight from both within Saudi and across the world. It set the tone for how King Salman sees the future. Since then, we analyzed syndicated research data, conducted focus groups and monitored social media to discover there was still much resistance from conservative Saudi men. This was affecting women's confidence and making them feel reluctant.
Therefore, our plan was to give real women the chance to get a real taste of driving a car, but we also wanted to highlight the men who were supporting their decision, all who had different feelings about the decree initially. By promoting the content, we hoped to normalize the decision for the other millions of men to support their wives, sisters and daughters in exercising their right to drive. This would make for meaningful content from a brave brand that isn't just riding the wave.