Saudi Arabia has vast deserts, and many parts of the country are uninhabited, un-survivable and un-reachable by most, except for the desert camel; the only being that can easily get there. Meet Sarha: the first-ever content creating camel, that helped Wunderman Thompson put stc (Saudi Telcom), the Kingdom’s biggest network to the ultimate test and demonstrate its widest coverage.
With the help of Sarha, global professional photographers including Zay Yar, Naypyitaw, Cody Cobb, New York, Marco Grassi, Rome, Ozan Akkaya, Istanbul, and more, were able to connect remotely and join Sarha on a journey of discovery and be among the first group of people to ever witness and capture the beauty of a hidden land – the rich, diverse, and majestic land of Saudi Arabia that has opened its door to tourism for the first time ever.
Using a camel that roams the desert and reaches places no human being can, the Wunderman Thompson team installed a dedicated high tech camera rig system on its hump (consisting of a laptop, solar panels, cam-ranger, and hotspot router connected to the internet), allowing photographers to connect remotely to the camel while it is roaming, and to control the whole system in order to take photos in the most remote areas of Saudi Arabia.
The camel was chosen as it holds a very special place in Saudi Arabia’s heart. The animal is venerated for their good looks, grace, and speed. Most importantly, a camel is symbolized as the “ship of the desert”. It can travel long distances on harsh desert terrains and can visit places that are hard to reach on the human foot.
The ad campaign consists of online film ads and content, website, and social support (Instagram and Twitter), while the media plan consists of online content/films promoted on stc’s social media platforms.
Throughout the production process, the teams encountering the following data points:
- The high temperature in the areas where photography took place frequently hit the mid-90s Fahrenheit, with a UV index that crept up to 12, which is considered extreme.
- The total number of camel steps (taken from Strava data with a human-to-camel step translation) reached 49,493 over the course of the experiment.
- Total data transferred: 37.1GB (average 4+ GB transferred per photographer session)
- The average distance from camera: 5247.7km from Sarha to photographer (3300+ miles); the closest photographer was in Jeddah, KSA (~950 km/590 miles away), while the furthest was in NYC, USA (~10,500km/6540 miles away)
“Putting our technology and infrastructure at the service of our Kingdom, its people, and their ambitions, has always been the core of our mission… and this project is a testament to that,” said Faisal Othman M Alsaad, Marketing Communication GM, stc.
“This is art meets technology meets culture. All in a creative, data-driven way. A journey of cultural discovery documenting breathtaking imagery through the lens of technology,” said Rayyan Aoun, Executive Creative Director, Wunderman Thompson Saudi Arabia.
Wunderman Thompson Saudi Arabia initiated the idea and lead the whole execution phases of the project, while Wunderman Thompson Seattle constructed and produced the technology behind the project, a camera controlling software for the camel, as well as a website that photographers used to access the camel camera. They also designed and collected data and analysis for the animated Instagram posts.
Wunderman Thompson Costa Rica lead data visualization efforts, animating the Seattle team’s designs and connected those animations to the data sets collected. Into Reflection managed the production on the ground, Wunderman Thompson created all the content and built the technology to allow photographers to connect stc, while the website was developed by stc.
The camel in the project was treated carefully as animal rights issues were taken into serious consideration. This was the first sprint, and the team hopes to unveil more areas with more photographers from around the world in the coming months.
- Zay Yar, Naypyitaw
- Cody Cobb, New York
- Marco Grassi, Rome
- Ozan Akkaya, Istanbul
- Ben Jacks, New York
- Najib Mrad, Beirut
- Ahmad Almali, Jeddah
- Anthony Lamb, London
- Noura Amri, Riyadh
- Sanne Derks, Spain
- Jannis Tomtsis, Thessaloniki
- Agency – Wunderman Thompson Saudi Arabia
- Chafic Haddad– Chief Creative Officer, MENA
- Rayyan Aoun – Executive Creative Director
- Firas Ghannam – Creative Director
- Ahmad Shanaa – Associate Creative Director
- Bashar Dababneh– Art Director
- Rawan Bakri – Junior Art Director
- Alanoud Al-Assaf – Copywriter
- Jad Haddad – Business Director
- Rabie Hassoun – Associate Business Director
- Yasmin Moufti – Account Director
- Joseph Elhage – Senior Account Manager
- Joe Abou Daher – Head of TV Production
- Wael Almadani – TV Producer
- Jason Carmel – Chief Data Officer, North America
- Shawn Herron – Experience Technology Director
- Matt Gilmore – Creative Director/Experience Technology Director
- George Ghaya – Executive Producer
- Hayfa Khaled – Producer
- Diego Cabezas – Director of Photography
- Alaaedine Enzawi – Director of Photography
- Faisal Alsaad – GM Marcom Consumer
- Abdullah Alotaibi – Digital Media Director
- Hashem Aldabas – Digital Content Development Section Manager
- Anas A. Aldukair – Digital Media Specialist
- Hana Ismail – Digital Media MarTech Consultant