Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman’s recent official visit to the UK turned many heads. Whether it was the huge, reported $1m, marketing campaign that was commissioned during his stay, the ‘surprising’ reaction to the visit by UK media or the street protests, everybody was talking – mostly favourably – about the Prince’s visit.
GMR takes a look at the strategy behind this excellent marketing campaign.
Selling ‘brand’ Saudi to the West
The Prince’s visit was a perfect example to typify how billboard marketing can be put to best use. While it may be normal to spruce up city roads when a Head of State is on an official visit, Saudi Arabia went one step further ahead of Prince Salman’s visit.
As almost all the national and international media outlets had their eyes glued to the Prince’s visit, Saudi Arabia used this visit as the best opportunity to project ‘brand’ Saudi to the west.
Massive billboards lined the main road between Heathrow Airport and London, bearing messages such as “He is bringing change to Saudi Arabia” and “He is opening Saudi Arabia to the world’. Each billboard featured an images of the Prince, along with the #ANewSaudiArabia hashtag, which quickly became trending.
At its core, the Prince’s visit to the UK was projected with much fanfare with the objective to reinforce his reformist image abroad, especially in the West that has traditionally had a stereotyped version to interpret Saudi Arabia.
Over the last few months, the Prince has been drawing global attraction for introducing many sweeping reforms in his home country, underlining his ambitions to bring change in Saudi Arabia.
And his reformatory steps are not going in vain. Instead, they are paying the kingdom back in terms of enhancing its higher ‘brand’ value for the outside world.
For instance, last year, Saudi Arabia’s international brand value soared by 19 percent, ranking the Kingdom second in the region after the UAE.
A research by the London-based business-valuation consultancy Brand Finance found that the Kingdom’s brand value now stands at $575 billion, making it the second most valuable nation brand in the Middle East.
Again last year in September, Saudi King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud revoked the Kingdom’s ban on women drivers, saying women in the country will be allowed to drive by June 2018, a move that took social media and business corridors by storm..
As Gasser Rayhan, Marketing Manager – Strategy & Corporate Planning, Al Rajhi Takaful, Riyadh, told GMR, “The influence, empowerment and contribution of the women’s role to the nation has impacted the brand value.”
In a nutshell, Prince’s visit to the UK could never have come at a better time to publicize the slew of reforms the Kingdom is going through.