DUBAI: As Saudi women gain greater freedom and push the boundaries of convention in the kingdom, advertisers need to rethink their approach to how they reach and engage with these consumers, according to a leading marketer.

Hussein M. Dajani, Nissan’s General Manager for Digital and Customer Experience in Africa, the Middle East, Turkey and India, addressed this topic at the Dubai Lynx conference.

He outlined several ways in which the context of marketing to women has changed, not just the much publicised decisions to allow them to drive and watch live sporting events in stadia.

More women than ever are initiating divorces, he pointed out, and a third of women in Saudi Arabia are single. And since women own 40% of the country's private wealth, they are an important market. 

“Risk-averse brands are missing out on communications opportunities if they do the same old thing,” he advised. (For more, read WARC’s report: How Nissan is showing support for Saudi women with She Drives.)

Nissan itself was quick off the mark when, on 26 September 2017, the Saudi government decreed that women could drive: it tweeted a picture of a licence plate, GRL 2018, 40 minutes afterwards, gaining significant engagement and PR for the brand.

It followed that up with the She Drives campaign, which last night won two awards at the Dubai Lynx: the Grand Prix in the Interactive category and a Gold in the Branded Content & Entertainment category. This was built on research that showed young Saudi women were actually in no hurry to drive and were waiting for their peers to start first.

So Nissan created a film where women test-drove its cars with important male figures in their lives (husbands, brothers and fathers) in the passenger seat instructing them.

“Women are not looking for consent but for approval, and their brothers are the ones they want it from the most,” Dajani explained. “It communicates that it’s a normal thing for them to drive and it is their decision whether they want to drive or not."

“For now, we’re just telling women ‘we’re behind them’,” he said. “It’s not about promoting cars. Instead, it’s about focusing the communication on the women themselves.”

Sourced from WARC