qiddiya city campaign

World's first 'city of play' Qiddiya launched with Droga5 and Accenture Song

The ‘Play Life’ campaign launches the giant entertainment destination currently under construction 40km from the centre of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia

By creative salon

Creative agencies Droga5 and Accenture Song are behind the new global brand platform and campaign ‘Play Life’ that launches the world’s first city of play, Qiddiya City, the giant entertainment destination currently under construction 40km from the centre of Riyadh in Saudi Arabia.

A guiding principle of the strategy Qiddiya sought from Droga5 and Accenture Song to co-create, is to reconnect humanity with play and its powerful effect on us as humans. Informing it is the idea that it is now time to take play seriously – by stopping seeing play as frivolous or childish and starting seeing it as something that helps us learn, connect and live longer.

The ‘Play Life’ platform is inspired by the city’s investment and design in play – residences are being built amongst theme parks and golf centres, houses will have games rooms as standard, and cultural and sporting events such as football, motor racing, gaming districts and performing arts are on the doorstep. The city is the start of the Qiddiya brand’s overall purpose and longer-term goal of educating, rekindling, and empowering people with the transformative impact of play, which it ultimately aims to bring to life with several upcoming initiatives beyond the city.

The campaign’s executions are a marked break from gigacity marketing and communications convention, which typically favour highly glossy ads and CGI. In contrast, ‘Play Life’ sets out to be human, relatable and fun.

‘Play Life’ creative campaign

In the hero film, the action starts with a series of scenes in which people watch or participate in a variety of pursuits – kicking a football, watching a motor race, playing a video game – in an uninspired and lacklustre way.

The mood and tone then flip when the items of play are released to take on a life of their own – a static horse ride moves down a street taking the child riding it with it, for example, and a bowling ball drags the man holding it before he can throw.

A high energy sequence then follows with participants and players taken on a rollercoaster ride. In the final reveal, a voice over explains: “The world’s first city built for play is coming to Saudi Arabia. Don’t just live life, play life. Qiddiya.”

The supporting campaign spans TV, cinema, OOH, digital display and social media and will run in Saudi Arabia and across the wider Middle East region as well as the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Turkey, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, Japan, China and South Korea.

Additionally, it will run on high-profile OOH sites internationally in the coming weeks including 3D billboards in Shanghai, New York, London and Riyadh. There will also be takeovers at Shibuya Crossing, Tokyo and the 82 connected screens at Riyadh Boulevard, Riyadh.

Shelley Smoler, CCO at Droga5, said: “It’s not every day that you get to launch not only a mere product, but an entire city. Add to that a city that is a playground, that doesn’t limit playtime to designated times or areas, and you have that magical brief that comes around once in a lifetime”

Ian Pons Jewell and Nick Roney, Directors at Prodco, added: “When we first read the script we were drawn to Droga’s ambitions to tell a global story with enough scope to make our mouths water. Our approach was simple: to try and capture the insanity of a city built around play. The idea of an F1 track intertwined with a rollercoaster that snakes through office buildings has a fantastic and surreal quality we want to capture on film. We aimed to be playful as possible, looking for moments of humor and personality to inject into the playthings’ journey. The only way to get into the right headspace was to travel to set everyday via bowling ball.”

Sharif El Rabiey, Droga5 Executive Group Account Director & Accenture Song Middle East Brand Practice Lead, commented: “Projects of this scale, especially ones as audacious as what Qiddiya is building, are easy to get lost in cynicism, create detachment, or both. That’s why the brand’s genuine belief in the power of play was so refreshing to us. It broadens the narrative of play from just a fun and frivolous activity to one that can be unleashed and positively impact all aspects of our lives. This campaign is a living manifestation of our own excitement around this philosophy.”

The commercial was directed by Ian Pons Jewell and Nick Roney and shot by Oscar winning cinematographer Erik Messerschmidt. Production company was ProdCo.

It is supported by an OOH campaign shot by Wade Brothers and 3D billboards developed in partnership with ETC studios, which extend the ‘Play Life’ theme.

The campaign runs until late January 2024.


Client Credits

Managing Director: Abdullah Aldawood

Advisor - MD: Ross McAuley

Executive Brand Advisor: Anthony Dalton

Senior Manager - Branding: Dima Malibary

Assistant Manager - Brand: Hend Youssef

Senior Manager - Marketing: Laila Alomran

Agency Credits:

CCO: Shelley Smoler

Creative Director: David Dearlove

Creative Director: Pete Heyes

Creative Director: Aziza Abid

Writer: Andy Lockley

Copywriter: Asmaa Mohamed Akram

Copywriter: Talal Haj Ali Bek

Head of Design: Stephanie McArdle

Design Director: Craig Atkinson

Senior Designer: Oli East

Senior Designer: Hannah Stewart

Designer: Alice Galli

Head of Production: Peter Montgomery

Senior Producer; Charlie Orr

Senior Stills Producer: Katerina Gharraph

Jnr Producer: Olly West

CSO: Damien Le Castrec

Strategy Director: Pete Heskett

Strategy Director: Kabelo Lehlongwane

Strategist: Sanaa Choudhry

Executive Group Account Director: Sharif El Rabiey

Senior Account Director: Tom Elias

Account Director: Jazz Brell

Account Director: Sara Abdulkader

Senior Account Manager: Georgia Holgate

Project Director: Amanda Poulter

Head of Studio: Tim Larke

Producer: Paul Millar

Motion Designer: Rob Wicksteed

Artworker: Paul Callaby

Artworker: Robert David

Artworker: Nik Coomber

Production Company Credits (Film)

Director: Ian Pons Jewell & Nick Roney

Production Company: ProdCo

Founding Partner / Executive Producer: Zico Judge

Managing Director: Katie Keith

EP: Amy Appleton

Head of Production: Sam Levene

Director of Photography: Erik Messerschmidt

Producer: James Waters

Production Manager: Davina Abrahams

Production Designer: Robin Brown

Post Production (Film)

VFX Company : Black Kite

VFX Supervisor: Adam Crocker

Executive Producer: Amy Richardson

Producer: Polly Durrance

Production Coordinator: Lewes Bridson

Colorist: Tom Mangham

VFX Lead: Guillaume Weiss

CG Lead: Dan Moore & Milen Piskuliyski

Edit: Final Cut

Editor: Sam Bould

Post Sound: String & Tins

Sound Design and Mix: Will Cohen

Sound Design: Lawrence Kendrick

Foley: The Foley Barn

Audio Producer: Laura-Leigh Smith

Music Arrangement: Guy Farley

Music Supervision: Will Cohen and Laura-Leigh Smith

Original Music Track: Générique Et Car De Police by Jean Constantin

Post Production

Wellcom / Dippin’ Sauce London - Led by Mel Di Prinzio & Gary Meade

Production Company Credits (OOH)

Wellcom / Dippin’ Sauce London

Photographers: The Wade Brothers - Lyndon Wade(Photographer), Lindsey Wade (Photographer)

VFX - Stefano Ottaviano

Photo Assistant - Edward Bourmier

Light assistant - Achraf, Gartzden Martinez, Pablo Rincon

Digital Assistant - Pedro Beraldo

Producer: Veronica Pales (Blur Producciones)

PM: Oscar Viade

Production Coordinator : Raqui Vives, Eva Cid

Production Company Credits (3D Billboard & Riyadh Boulevard)

VFX Company: Electric Theatre Collective

VFX/CG Lead: Ed Shires

Asset Lead: Will Medcalf

Animators: Gerered Murphy, Han Park, Shiny Rajan

Lighting: Lennart Vulto, Jochem Aarts

FX: Ivan Tomovic

Compositors: Stirling Archibald, Scott Middleton

Senior Producer: Oscar Wendt

Wellcom / Dippin’ Sauce London: Mel Di Prinzio & Gary Meade


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