2022 Winners & Shortlists


Short List
CategoryAudience Engagement or Distribution Strategy for Branded Content

Why is this work relevant for Entertainment?

To get people to start seeing the UAE differently, its story had to be told differently. Instead of the UAE showing about what it does for its people through an ad, we gave room for real people to tell their stories of success in pure documentary fashion. To be able to change perceptions and give justice to these stories we couldn’t rely on the current industry standards of 10 to 15 seconds ads. We focused on giving the audience something they would seek out for on a platform where they engage actively, rather than interrupting their lives with an ad.


Even though the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a young country, having celebrated their 50th birthday in 2021, it already has been established and recognized as a land of opportunities. This is evident through its ability to attract talent from all over the world for different industries (over 190 nationalities). However, whenever people move to the UAE they think of it only as a transitional period – where the average expat tends to stay in the UAE for 3 years on average before travelling back home or to another country. The objective was to cement the UAEs positive perception as a place of opportunities, but to also showcase those opportunities across the 7 Emirates and launch the nation brand. How? Through the various policies put in place and highlighting everything the country has achieved over the past 50 years in governance, innovation, trade, investment, tourism, humanitarianism and heritage.

Describe the creative idea

The perception the world has of the UAE is only at surface level. The country has been overshadowed by one of its city’s jaw dropping skyline and glamorous lifestyle, making it impossible to even get a glimpse at its true personality and character. To get the audience to truly see what lies beyond the superficial, we knew that we had to focus on real stories from the people that make the country, not the policies. Real people whose demonstrate that behind success, there’s also sweat, sacrifice and pain. “It’s possible” gives an authentic look into the lives of people across the 7 Emirates, all the way from Fujairah to Abu Dhabi.

Describe the strategy

Our problem was not that people did not see the UAE as a country of opportunity. Our problem was because the country was only seen from one narrow perspective, it became a place for transitional-quick-money. Therefore, instead of putting the spotlight on the policies enabled by the government (and ending up with a dry and boring government monologue), we decided to put the spotlight on what people have been able to achieve with these policies. This was the only way to tell a more meaningful story, one that shows that the UAE is not a country of easy-money, but a country that rewards passion and effort. We moved away from topics like governance, innovation, trade, investment, tourism, humanitarianism and heritage and humanised the authentic culture of the country by focusing on stories of opportunity in art, food, science, music, performance arts, language and sports.

Describe the execution

To create It’s Possible, we started by doing extensive research and scouting to find real people with interesting, complex and rich stories. People that were authentic and raw, that were able to act as the voices that broke through the tempered glass and help the audience personify the nation. Resulting in 29 stories captured in 29 films. Once we found those stories, we had to look for the best way of reaching a broad global audience. Instead of going down the traditional paid media route, we partnered with VICE, to be able to distribute the content through their channels to over 400 million users globally. Beyond that, we created a co-branded microsite that would host all the films, as well as editorial articles that would take the stories even further.

Describe the outcome

In a short span of time we harnessed over 89.4 million impressions and more than 41.1 million views from all over the world. The audience found the content so engaging that we achieved a 55.36% VTR, which is 79% higher than the benchmark.


Name Company Role
Ciaran Bonass Virtue Worldwide Executive Creative Director
Sarah Berro Virtue Worldwide Senior Creative Director
Elie Nasr Virtue Worldwide Senior Creative
Carl Jreissati Virtue Worldwide Head of Account Management
Ali Fathalla Virtue Worldwide Account Director
Mahmoud Hassan Virtue Worldwide Account Director
Alvaro Bretel Virtue Worldwide Head of Strategy
Dina Alsharif Virtue Worldwide Strategist
Gloria Abou Diwan Virtue Worldwide Head of Production
Nagham Abboud Virtue Worldwide Senior Producer
Dennis Kareta Virtue Worldwide Producer
Moe Najati WHAT IF Creative Studios Director
Nasrallah Saad WHAT IF Creative Studios Executive Producer
Hugo Narciso WHAT IF Creative Studios Executive Producer
Robert Babekuhl WHAT IF Creative Studios Director Of Photography
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