2019 Winners & Shortlists


CategoryTravel, Leisure, Retail, Restaurants & Fast Food Chains

Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?

Airport travel can be draining, stressful and often bland – so why not bring Dubai’s “wow” factor into the airport? If you travel from Boston to Hong Kong (or any other international connection) and transfer through Dubai International (DXB), like many international airports, there is little “sense of place”. Our campaign created beautiful and distinctive departure gates that prioritise comfort – and connect the city to passengers. By incorporating a sense of Arab hospitality and rich Emirati culture into the airport experience, we are building excitement and knowledge of Dubai, and creating valuable impressions with passengers one traveller per time.


Dubai Airport - already the world’s busiest airport by footfall, welcomed its billionth passenger in December 2018 - but only 1/3 of travellers actually visit the city. Dubai is obviously not content with being the busiest, it wants to be the best. The airport is also a vital benchmark for visitors’ impressions, and the Dubai brand. There is a clear commercial benefit for encouraging more people to stop over or return, by converting transiting passengers into future visitors, supporting Dubai’s Tourism Vision 2020 mandate to attract 20million visitors per year by 2020. DXB wanted to raise its "ASQ" rating and improve the boarding experience and, within that, diversify the seating experience. They us to specifically focus on five types of seating: resting, groups, high seating, working and leaning. All seating solutions had to adhere to stringent specification and regulations. The solution - buy more seats? No! *ASQ Standards Global Leader

Describe the creative idea.

Working with customer feedback and local experts, using gate A21 and A4 as our starting designs, our creative focus was two key priorities: 1. Welcome to Dubai Airport: where freemium comes as standard. We had two key drivers when creating the new gates - one informed our experiential drive, the other more towards the visual. For the experiential, we looked to the ‘perceived’ world view of Dubai as a ‘Premium Destination’ and through strategic exploration developed the central idea “FREEMIUM”. “Welcome to Dubai, where premium comes as standard”. 2. The second, which became of paramount importance to us, was the desire to weave a ‘sense of place’ throughout the design and create a space that was distinctly of Emirati influence. Travellers should have a sense of the land they’re in and the culture they’re passing through. They should leave richer, having experienced something new, something unexpected, something beautiful.

Describe the strategy.

Working with a local designer was essential to creating a sense of Emirati culture. We drew inspiration from a renowned local Emirati artist’s “Yaroof” screens. Yaroof being a traditional Emirati fishing technique involving unique nets used along the shores of UAE for centuries. Working with the artist we co-created iconic and dominating Yaroof structures. For privacy and space segregation we created screens and . woven throughout the space reside short stories originating from the Emirates. The concept was derived from the age-old tradition of The Hakawati (storyteller in Arabic), who would entertain passing travellers and caravans with tales in the Bedouin tents of old or around campfires.

Describe the execution

The starting point lay in understanding the terminal’s footfall, their emotional and functional needs. We zoned spaces to maximise different ambiances, from workspaces to family seating, while light and technology create a functional yet relaxing atmosphere. Capitalising on expansive voids of the terminal, we punctuated the space with large overhead structures, drawing inspiration from traditional materials. We commissioned custom materials, from Italian manufactured seating to Norwegian fabrics. We created custom semi-private screens with images of reeds. Beautifully written short stories provide small vignettes beyond the airport’s walls. Delivering a sense of the Emirates was top of mind, at every single turn is a surprise, and each touch point is a nod to the locality. Out of the corner of your eye are different landscapes, visual and text stories, traversing people, the mountains, the coast and desert to the souk.

List the results.

We are currently reviewing the metrics on the gates with the intent of producing and rolling out version 2.0. The concept was initially tested through the creation of a mock up gate on the land side, and the feedback/results was extremely positive. The actual gate – A21 – was launched to the public on 21st December 2018 and already resulted in positive feedback from a broad spectrum of travelers. Qualitative research showed that travelers were impressed by the different seating options; not only providing them with more comfort but also catering towards other functional needs. They stated that this caused a more relaxed and experiential stay. The research also showed that connecting travelers were intrigued by what Dubai could offer them, after getting a glimpse of what contemporary Arabian hospitality looks like.


Name Company Role
Adam Nash Ochre Creative Director - Experience