The first ever destination brand campaign for AlUla, the heritage and culture centrepiece of Saudi Arabia, was unveiled today.
The campaign, developed by the Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) with creative partners Leo Burnett, includes a 90” film directed by renowned cinematographer Bruno Aveillan and a suite of digital assets under the concept of The World’s Masterpiece.
In what is hoped will be a year of travel recovery, AlUla’s new brand campaign is targeting domestic travellers and aimed at deepening the Kingdom’s pride and affection for AlUla as well as ultimately increasing intention to visit.
‘The World’s Masterpiece is a play on both the skilful artistry of ancient civilisations who carved elaborate artworks into the rocky outcrops, as well as the pure and unspoilt beauty of the geological rock formations and landscapes sculpted by nature,’ said Phillip Jones, Chief Destination Management and Marketing Officer, RCU.
AlUla is the first of the significant Saudi Vision 2030 initiatives to welcome visitors, having re-opened key heritage sites to visitors in October 2020 as a new year-round offer.
‘We know Saudis love to travel and we hope this campaign will inspire many of them to appreciate a must-see destination, a world masterpiece, closer to home.’
‘Our heritage sites are now available all year-round and with new hotels, restaurants and adventure experiences including trails, bikes and buggies coming throughout 2021 we encourage visitors to book ahead, think about mid-week and plan to stay a few days,’ said Jones.
The hero film features a young Saudi woman reflecting on her time in AlUla and visiting key sites including UNESCO World Heritage Site Hegra, Dadan, Jabal Ikmah, AlUla Old Town and Jabal AlFil (Elephant Rock). She appears marvelling at the mirrored architectural wonder, Maraya, and strolling through the lush winter oasis.
The campaign was conceived by RCU’s GCC region creative agency, Leo Burnett, and directed by Bruno Aveillan. Born in Toulouse, Aveillan is one of the most distinguished and sought-after commercials directors in the world today. He was immediately creatively and emotionally inspired by AlUla and sought to convey that feeling through the film.
Aveillan said, ‘It was such an honour and privilege to work on this project. An historic and important destination as this needed the appropriate gravitas. We wanted to convey feelings of nostalgia and the emotion of seeing the destination for the first time. AlUla is a unique place in the world, we needed to make the first ever destination film with a style that no other place could imitate.’
It is hoped that the campaign will help to achieve RCU’s visitor projections of 90k for 2021 and 130k for 2022. And while the campaign is aimed at the domestic market, and specifically three core audience segments which represent 64% of the regional affluent traveller market, Melanie de Souza, Executive Director Marketing, RCU expects it to have some organic reach digitally in international markets.
‘We are already receiving a lot of interest from international travellers excited to explore a new destination with such history including ancient civilisations from the Dadanites to the Nabataeans and the Romans.’
‘The travel landscape has been irreversibly altered, but as travel slowly resumes, research tells us people will be looking for meaningful travel, vast open spaces and close to nature experiences. AlUla is well-positioned in the domestic market for all of those reasons and internationally as a new and significant boutique heritage and culture destination,’ said de Souza.
The campaign will be launched in broadcast, outdoor and digital from January 9th 2021.
Located 1,100 km from Riyadh, in North-West Saudi Arabia, AlUla is a place of extraordinary natural and human heritage. The vast area, covering 22,561km², includes a lush oasis valley, towering sandstone mountains and ancient cultural heritage sites dating back thousands of years to when the Lihyan and Nabataean kingdoms reigned.
The most well-known and recognised site in AlUla is Hegra, Saudi Arabia’s first UNESCO World Heritage Site. A 52-hectare ancient city, Hegra was the principal southern city of the Nabataean Kingdom and is comprised of more than 100 well preserved tombs with elaborate facades cut out of the sandstone outcrops surrounding the walled urban settlement.
Current research also suggests Hegra was the most southern outpost of the Roman Empire after conquering the Nabataeans in 106 CE.
In addition to Hegra, AlUla is home to a fascinating historical and archaeological sites such as: Ancient Dadan, the capital of the Dadan and Lihyan Kingdoms, which is considered one of the most developed 1st-millennium BCE cities of the Arabian Peninsula; thousands of ancient rock art sites and inscriptions at Jabal Ikmah; Old Town, a labyrinth of more than 900 mudbrick homes developed from at least the 12th century, and Hijaz Railway and Hegra Fort, key sites in the story and conquests of Lawrence of Arabia.
About The Royal Commission for AlUla
The Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) was established by royal decree in July 2017 to protect and safeguard AlUla, a region of outstanding natural and cultural significance in North-West Saudi Arabia. RCU is embarking on a long-term plan to develop and deliver a sensitive, sustainable transformation of the region, reaffirming it as one of the country's most important archaeological and cultural destinations and preparing it to welcome visitors from around the world. RCU’s development work in AlUla encompasses a broad range of initiatives across archaeology, tourism, culture, education and the arts, reflecting the ambitious commitment to cultivate tourism and leisure in Saudi Arabia, outlined in Vision 2030.