With Expo 2020 taking place in Dubai, and the 2022 World Cup making its way to Qatar’s capital, some brands in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are turning to YouTube to connect with potential holiday-goers looking for travel tips, new destinations, and entertainment. Searches for destinations like Dubai and Qatar have increased by up to 74% over the past year.
Creativity is a big driver of return-on-investment (ROI) for advertising campaigns. In fact, research by Analytics Partners shows that a good creative asset can drive 62% of video and display ROI.1 That’s why Dubai Tourism, Emirates Airlines, Yas Island and Abu Dhabi Tourism got creative with their long form YouTube-native content.
“A digital-first storytelling model is what really drives ROI in a campaign, and this is what these brands have been able to achieve,” says Alex Brunori, head of Creative Works for MENA, SSA, and Turkey.
Here are the videos that will have you on the edge of your seat, and maybe even inspire you to book a spontaneous flight!
Dubai Tourism: Blockbuster trailers that pique viewers’ interest
Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (DTCM) set off to inspire potential travellers across the globe with a series of movie trailers featuring Hollywood stars Zac Efron and Jessica Alba. The trailers catered to different types of movie lovers, from action and drama to comedy and sci-fi. Thanks to this strategy, they expanded their relevance to a massive audience, with the videos amassing over 72 million views and counting.
“Using cinema both as a platform and as the foundation of the ad concept meant that we could delve beyond just advertising to our target audience,” explained Issam Kazim, CEO of DTCM. “We created content that highlights what Dubai has to offer in such a way that viewers actually enjoyed watching it, and which also stimulated sharing.”
Emirates: A thrilling stunt that took the airline to new heights
U.K. travellers had long waited for travel restrictions to ease so they could visit Dubai. When restrictions finally lifted, Emirates made them feel heard and valued by giving this pivotal moment the importance it deserved. In the video, a stewardess delivers the message from the top of the Burj Khalifa to show that the airline was feeling on top of the world. Literally.
The video created a flurry of speculations online, with thousands of viewers questioning whether the daring feat was filmed in front of a green screen. As a result, the behind-the-scenes video made by the brand gathered almost 3 million organic views with a user-generated video adding 9 million views on top.
Yas Island: A comedic yet catchy pop culture parody
YouTube is the world’s biggest music streaming platform, where every month over 2 billion people watch famous artists, remixes and, of course, parodies.
Yas Island chose one of the most famous and catchy songs of all time to create content that showcases how tapping into popular trends and music can lead to branded communication that both delivers the message and fits in on the platform. It is hard to tell whether the video is an ad or a fun piece of user-generated content until you get to the chorus “Stayin’ on Yas” (a parody of the famous Bee Gees song “Stayin’ alive”). And by then it’s too late: you’re hooked.
Abu Dhabi Tourism: Relatable scenarios and an action-packed approach
Whether lockdown turned you into a baker, a binge-watcher, or a Lego enthusiast, Abu Dhabi Tourism’s video shows lockdown scenes we can all identify with.
The video is an entertaining play on relatability as it shows different types of lockdown personalities and their reaction to seeing the Abu Dhabi adventures that appeal to each one. Five 20-second-long cut-downs of the original video were also released as a more direct way to appeal to each type of traveller and entice them to watch until the end.
For the adrenaline lovers, this action packed short hero story featuring John Cena will give you even more reason to travel, showing how the city appeals to even the most adventurous of travellers.
Key takeaways for marketers looking to get creative on YouTube
- Make something people want to watch
Even though the pandemic is still very much alive in many travellers' lives, don’t shy away from what your brand or product has to offer in exchange for a socially responsible message. People understand that things are not as they used to be, but they won’t pick a product, service, or destination because you reminded them of the new normal.
Dubai Tourism’s blockbuster trailers did just that. They took a creative approach producing videos that intrigued viewers to watch, regardless of their intentions to travel, and informed them about what Dubai has to offer — in an indirect manner.
- If you are using YouTube, create for YouTube
Creating ads for YouTube means fighting for attention against some of the best content in the world. Whatever you create must be in line with current viewer trends and interests.
The video sharing platform has no length limitation and tons of content types to choose from, so choose an approach that resonates with your brand goals and tailor your content to the audience you have in mind.
The examples above are well over the traditional 30-second length and take time to tell their stories. By making it in line with the current trends and content types relevant to each audience, the ads merged seamlessly with the content viewers organically came to enjoy.
- Follow digital video best practices
YouTube’s ABCD best practices, which focus on attracting the right audience, integrating your brand, connecting through storytelling, and directing potential customers through a clear call to action, are simple yet key steps to make any video perform better on the platform. Keeping these foundational guidelines in mind can help brands and advertisers take more effective risks and creative choices.
Creating digital videos for YouTube also means creating for mobile. With over 70% of YouTube watch time comes from mobile,2 make sure you maximise screen real estate with tight framing and legible text for an optimum experience. Keeping this in mind will help you efficiently optimise your ads and videos to ensure that the creative work that goes into them is mobile-friendly.
Yas Island, for example, did a great job using the right aspect ratio, making the ad bright and contrasted for dimmed screens, while also focusing on connecting with the viewer and, of course, having a clear call to action.