Having been the first to react to the announcement of the decree with a post on Twitter featuring a number plate execution, we noticed there was still a loud and negative minority of men who opposed Saudi women driving. This led us to a different angle in our creative approach: sure, we wanted to empower women, but we also needed to normalize the idea of women driving for men. After two six-second videos, we followed up with a real-world event where everyday women could actually drive a car, and unbeknown to them, it would be the men in their lives who would give them their first lesson - brothers, uncles, husbands and fathers. Despite the logistical challenges, this made for a genuinely shareable and emotional film. Thereafter, we started receiving driving tips from men, which we developed into a visual driving guide for women on our Instagram page.
News of The Royal Decree broke at 11:30pm. An hour later, we grabbed the headlines by developing the "2018-GRL" Tweet. To further cement the idea and establish #shedrives as the unofficial hashtag of the movement, we posted two 6-second films on Facebook a week later: one showed the number-plate being pressed, the other a Saudi woman getting into the driver's seat. To really bring the idea to life, we built a space in which Saudi women could actually drive a car, legally, for the first time in Saudi Arabia. The twist being, unbeknown to our female learners, their first instructor would be the man from their household. The content generated huge engagement and positive sentiment across YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Finally, we asked all Saudi men to show their support by submitting driving tips under the #shedrives to a highlights album on Instagram.
We expected the campaign to be referenced and celebrated internationally, as was the decree. However, we really wanted to effect a change in attitude and behavior in Saudi Arabia, especially amongst more conservative men in households.
The initial post was only on Twitter, featuring the "GRL 2018" car number plate visual. It generated 562,000 impressions and 49,353 clicks, retweets, comments and likes/reactions. This is an 8.8% engagement rate, when the benchmark for excellence on Twitter 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.
The campaign as a whole has been celebrated globally and regionally, with media coverage on TV and online, including Reuters, CNN, Al Arabiya and BBC Worldwide. Even though the campaign still has more than 3 weeks to run, earned media has been valued at over $2.1m.
Most big brands have the budget to pay for reach and media impressions. Few have the bravery to invest in an idea that will earn it. After King Salman issued a royal decree in late September allowing women to drive in June 2018, Nissan grasped the opportunity to bring to life their brand promise: to make the innovation and excitement of driving accessible to all. In this case, 'all' being women in Saudi Arabia who had previously never been allowed to drive legally in their own country.
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, syndicated research data, focus groups and social media analysis revealed 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 drive for the first time, 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 normalized the decision for the other millions of men to support their wives, sisters and daughters in exercising their right to drive. Finally, we drove men to participate and submit driving tips for women. This made for a meaningful campaign from a brave brand that isn't just riding the wave.