GOVERNMENT OF UAE MEDIA OFFICE Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Guerrilla Marketing & Stunts
TBWA\RAAD Dubai, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES
Why is this work relevant for Brand Experience & Activation?
It probably happens only once in a lifetime that you get a souvenir, straight from Mars. But that is exactly what we did for the hundreds of thousands of visitors who arrived at the UAE on the 9th of Feb 2021.
To celebrate the arrival of the UAE’s Hope Probe to Mars, we created a passport stamp printed with a specially formulated ‘Martian Ink’ – an ink extracted from volcanic basalt rocks that give Mars its distinct red colour and are also present in the UAE. The initiative but got the world’s attention reaching over 1.5 billion people through PR.
On the 20th of July 2020, the Emirates Mars Mission launched the Hope Probe. A testament to the UAE’s relentless ambition that culminated in the first ever Arab interplanetary space mission. On the 9th of February 2021, the Hope probe was to complete its 7-month and 493.5 million kilometre-journey to the Red Planet.
But the probe’s entry into the Martian orbit was the most dangerous part of its voyage. Just before entering the orbit, the probe had to go through a 30-minute ‘dark’ period, with no contact from the on-ground team and perform automated maneuvers that will push it into the orbit.
Irrespective of the outcome of the probe’s Orbit Insertion, 9th February marked a major milestone not just for the UAE but for the entire Arab world. We wanted to celebrate it and spread the news with something that’s equally remarkable.
Describe the creative idea (20% of vote)
To commemorate the arrival of its Hope Probe to Mars on the 9th of February 2021 and celebrate this historic milestone for the Arab world and humanity, we wanted to give people a symbolic souvenir, straight from Mars.
We created a passport stamp printed with a specially formulated ‘Martian Ink’ - A limited-edition ink that is extracted from volcanic basalt rocks, that give the Red Planet its distinct rusty colour and that are also present in the mountain ranges of the UAE.
An emblem of the country’s unwavering ambition and guiding principle that “Impossible is Possible”, the stamp welcomed all UAE visitors with a memorable reminder of this new era for Arabs in time and space and a special message:
“You’ve arrived in the Emirates. The Emirates is arriving at Mars on 09.02.2021. Printed with Martian Ink.”
Describe the strategy (20% of vote)
The Hope Mars Mission is a huge turning point, not only for the UAE but for the entire Arab world. This was the moment when we could make the world look at the UAE beyond its oil-rich luxury, tall skyscrapers and vast deserts.
The UAE was about to make history as only the fifth nation in the world and the first Arab country to successfully launch an inter-planetary mission. 9th February was about to get transformed from being just another day to a date that marks a landmark moment.
We wanted people across the region & the world, irrespective of their age or gender, to take notice of this important day and remember it for many more years to come. We wanted to celebrate the arrival of the Hope Probe to Mars by giving people a taste of Mars itself, to those arriving in the UAE.
Describe the execution (30% of vote)
There’s no set formula to create ink from volcanic basalt rocks. We had to simultaneously learn & adapt. The volcanic basalt rocks, which give Mars its rusted red look, can also be found in the Mleiha desert in the UAE. Special missions were conducted by experts & geologists to collect the rocks.
The rocks were ground with a mechanical jaw crusher. The resulting crushed rock sand was then put through a vibrating pulveriser to crush the sand into fine dust. We then carefully extracted pigments from the powdered red sand. And that’s how the first-ever Martian ink was born.
After thorough testing, it was ready to be stamped on the paper surface of passports in the shape of the final design that we created specifically for this stamp.
The process of developing the stamp took 4 weeks in total, starting from the idea creation all the way through execution.
List the results (30% of vote)
The unique passport stamp immediately got the attention of global media with over 50 publications covering it garnering a reach of over 1.5 billion unique visitors.
The list includes some of the most popular names in international & regional media like Financial Express, Independent, Yahoo News, MSN, Saudi Gazette, Nerdist, US News, Space & AFP.
The Martian Ink passport stamped surprised the thousands of visitors arriving in the UAE on 9th Feb and they couldn’t resist sharing it on social media.
Owing to the resounding success of the idea and the remarkable reactions of travelers at the airports, what was initially planned to be a 1-day activation only for travelers who landed in the UAE on the day of the Hope Probe’s arrival at Mars has been extended till the end of 2021.