Saudi Report 2021: The road to renewal, by FP7’s Mark Lawandos

FP7’s Mark Lawandos examines the path to a ‘new normal’ of constant change in the wake of Covid-19 and the changes sweeping Saudi Arabia.

Covid-19 has had a significant impact on every aspect of life, from how we go about our daily lives to how we do business. Brands and marketing agencies had to rise to the challenge and adapt with speed to the new landscape presented by the Covid-19 crisis. And now, as we emerge into a new post-crisis era, we have to pivot again to establish a ‘new normal’ way of working and design a new chapter of storytelling.

When Saudi Arabia, together with the rest of the world, went into lockdown in response to the Covid-19 pandemic in March 2020, at FP7 we realised we had to evolve how we told brand stories quickly. We had to ensure our brand stories remained relevant and resonated with their desired audiences. This continues to define how we are building a path of meaningful wholesale change as we invest
in post-crisis renewal.

An example of how the crisis was a catalyst for change is our work with the Saudi Sports for All Federation (SFA). The SFA’s mandate is to increase the number of people undertaking regular physical activity in the kingdom to 40 per cent by 2030. The Federation had planned a series of large-scale events throughout 2020, and we had developed an extensive marketing and communications strategy to support it. The introduction of the Covid-19 restrictions meant that everything had to be cancelled at a stroke, and a new marketing and communications approach had to be conceived quickly. We had to demonstrate our ability to react decisively and creatively to a huge, unforeseen challenge.

We devised an innovative approach to community fitness to inspire and motivate physical activity during the lockdown. We developed the concept of a digital national health and wellness campaign: Baytak Nadeek (Your Home, Your Gym). The campaign was launched in mid-March with a series of calls-to-action. At the same time, a new healthy Living portal was launched on the SFA website offering informative and inspirational features on all aspects of fitness and wellbeing.

The result of the campaign was: a 7.6 million online audience, a 60 per cent increase in walking, 8 billion steps logged and 1,800 videos shared online of Baytak Nadeek workouts. The campaign was also recognised with the Gold Award in the MEPRA Awards 2020, Best Campaign in KSA category.

Another good example is “Listening is Everything” campaign from Spotify. With lockdown keeping people locked within the confines of their homes, music became their means to escape the monotony of indoor life as well as stay connected to the outside world. Using a series of quirky, smart and witty films, Spotify not only entertained them with good content but also encouraged them to stay entertained with the power of personalised music on the platform.

The Covid-19 pandemic has changed behaviours, expectations and how customers want to consume content. The years ahead will offer a tremendous opportunity to those that have used the crisis to innovate and evolve. At FP7,
we embrace change and are committed to designing a new chapter and a new future. We have a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to refresh, reboot, and rediscover, and we are rising to that challenge. The path to renewal happens with purposeful intent, and we are determined to lead the way in post-crisis renewal and secure a sustainable future.