Babyshop, a children's retailer based in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East, wanted to stand for "celebrating parenthood".
But, the word “parenthood” in the Arabic language, meant “fatherhood”.
Despite recent progress in Saudi Arabia and the region around women’s rights and equality, there was NO word for “parenthood” that included or implied "mother".
Other Arabic words, for parenthood, were also derived from words meaning “father”.
So, working with linguists, we created a new Arabic word, giving equal importance to both parents: AL UMOBUWAH; a word that means “Motherhood and Fatherhood”.
When Arabic has been experimented with, brands have been banned in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East.
But, with a low budget of just $50,000, we broke through by persuading Babyshop to stand for equality, and launched the word online, inviting people to use it.
Instantly, it sparked positive support from 50% of those reached.
But, it also provoked 50% negative reactions and hate, mainly from conservative men, who felt a change was not needed.
43 Arabic Female and Male Influencers joined us to endorse the word, engaging with negative commentators.
Leading Arab media voices supported the word and its inclusion, with endorsements such as, “A new way to say parenthood”, “Everyone should use it. It adds to the language without insulting it” and “An innovative idea. Shows both parents matter. Doesn’t prejudice against fathers.”
Leading Arabic news channels and talk shows also endorsed the idea with newscasters and hosts supporting its purpose and inclusion in the vernacular.
Online, we launched a new children’s collection, that featured in regional fashion shows. Proceeds went to a charity for refugee families.
Interactive audio-based experiences, in-store and online, created more familiarity.
Children learnt the word across Arabic schools and through interactive events.
Babyshop published and distributed an Arabic magazine, titled “Al Umobuwah”.
The word featured on Arabic poetry platforms.
The word earned over 400,000 mentions on social media alone (based on public profiles/posts).
The word generated 2.3 billion earned media impressions, reached 220 million people regionally (92% of people across the 6 markets) and generated an unprecedented $4.5 million earned media and rising, across leading regional and local news and mass media online platforms.
And through adoption across Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and abroad, driven by an online petition, the word found its rightful place in a published Arabic dictionary.
Babyshop became the first brand in the Middle East and the world that dared to innovative with the Arabic language by adding to it, despite the surety of backlash and negative sentiments.
Apart from nudging and influencing culture and the lexicon, in terms of communication, marketing and commercial gains, the idea also proved to be an effective business move for Babyshop:
+27% brand buzz (6-months-prior vs. 6-months-pre).
+32% brand love with Arab mothers (6-months-prior vs. 6-months-pre).
+21% relevance (6-months-prior vs. 6-months-pre).
+12% consideration (6-months-prior vs. 6-months-pre).
+4% new customers (6-months-prior vs. 6-months-pre).
+2.3% wallet volumes (6-months-prior vs. 6-months-pre).