A Message Of National Pride Pays Off For Pepsi In Saudi

If you have ever been in Saudi Arabia, and are familiar with the kingdom’s culture, it is impossible that you walk away from this Pepsi ad without that hair-raising experience, when a message just hits home.

The results reiterate the success of the message. Since its launch, nearly three months back, over 93 celebrities and public figures shared and praised the campaign. The buzz on Twitter generated 4.5 billion impressions. The video was viewed over 18.5 million times across platforms and the overall sentiment was positive with 96 percent association with the brand.

What Clicked
Let’s take a closer look at what worked for the campaign. Pepsi’s ‘The Greatness Is Within’ strikes a chord at several levels. The commercial recognizes the icons that the kingdom has created over the years, leading up to Muna AbuSulayman, the first Saudi UN Goodwill Ambassador and among the globally noted women leaders from the country.

In this campaign, unlike most cola brand’s creative messages, Pepsi not only celebrated Saudi’s continued sense of national pride, but also its own parallel journey alongside. One of its key challenges hence was communicating the message, and doing so with no more than seven ambassadors.

Ibrahim Zeinalabdin
Ibrahim Zeinelabdin

“The criterion was very simple. We wanted iconic ambassadors from the kingdom who represent different generations. The aim was to send an inspirational message to everybody with different interests from people they look up to,” explained Ibrahim Zeinelabdin, Senior Marketing Manager, Colas Development at PepsiCo International, MENA.

The ad also features Abadi Aljohar, a renowned artist and football players such as legendary Captain Mohd. Abd Al-Jawad among others.

National pride is perhaps one of the most important emotional drivers for the Arab consumer, the case being no different in Saudi Arabia.

If utilized well, it can allow for the right connecting point between a brand and its audience. Pepsi’s own history in Saudi Arabia also assisted it in using this lever aptly.

Bringing The Insight To Life
“For us, the journey itself was beautiful. We began knowing that we needed to send an inspirational message to everyone in the kingdom, calling out to achieve and realize their dreams. When you observe generation after generation in Saudi, a common thread is the unified essence of pride. That led us to our insight. From there, we worked on how we send an inspirational message of pride that is rooted in the kingdom and in everyone in it,” elaborated Mr Zeinelabdin.

The seven ambassadors are symbolic of how cultural values matter in Saudi Arabia, and how Saudi Arabia has evolved over the years to be noted on a global stage.

“The whole campaign was built on the timeless idea of national pride. No matter what the background or lifestyle of any citizen in the kingdom, at the end of the day, you come and you find the heart, the soul is one and it revolves around being Saudi,” added Mr Zeinelabdin.

Pepsi took this message beyond the screens to its packaging as well. Pepsi cans fashioned designs and logos that have been used over the years. Each can mentions the year that the logo was used in. Sharing more, Mr Zeinelabdin says, “Its a 360-degree activation — from mass media, digital and outdoor to packaging. We have launched five different designs for brand Pepsi that you have seen in the 80’s, in the 90’s and the 2000s. And the Pepsi cans show them all.”

Saudi Arabia is changing. With Vision 2030, the world is witnessing a very promising future to the kingdom. At a time when women will drive, cinemas are opening doors to people and the economy itself is becoming diversified welcoming global investments, the role of the brands becomes crucial.

Pepsi’s message, therefore, is also very well timed. Speaking on the strong bond that brand Pepsi shares with Saudi, Mr Zeinelabdin said, “Pepsi has been embedded in the Saudi culture for over 60 years. We are proud of being there for that long and we always wanted to be the sound of love. So this is just a very small way to celebrate our existence in that culture, now, yesterday and in the future as well.”

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